LUBBOCK, Texas - Well, it was a start. At this point in the season, West Virginia's basketball team can't be picky.
You want artistic, go to a museum.
You want overwhelming performances, watch Michigan or Kansas.
You want easy, go to Staples and push that button from the commercials.
West Virginia just wants wins. And Saturday's 77-61 decision over Texas Tech was a win.
"A win is a win,'' point guard Juwan Staten said. "If it comes on a buzzer-beater, if it comes by 20 points, a win is a win. And we definitely need wins, so we'll take them however we can get them.''
Saturday's win over Texas Tech at a beautiful building called the United Spirit Arena was as important as any West Virginia has had this season. Granted, there haven't been many, so the competition isn't all that fierce. But if there was a make-or-break game for the Mountaineers, this was it.
Consider that at 9-11 coming into the game, the season was hanging by a thread. This was the start of a five-game stretch in which West Virginia plays the other three similarly-positioned Big 12 teams (in other words, at the bottom of the standings) four times.
Texas Tech is just not very good, frankly. The Red Raiders aren't TCU bad, but they aren't very good. And for a while they gave the Mountaineers a fight.
Had West Virginia lost, it would be 9-12 today, 2-6 in the Big 12 and tied for the worst overall record in the league. With the win, though, the Mountaineers are suddenly at the top of that four-team jumble that also includes Texas, Texas Tech and TCU. They are a game closer not to joining the mix of six teams at the top of the league (although that's the ultimate goal), but to climbing out of that group of basement dwellers.
And, for the second day in a row, it was enough to get Bob Huggins talking NCAA tournament again.
Sure, it's still a long, long shot. But as far as he's concerned it's not a dead dream. If it were, he'd be in a real pickle because motivation would be terribly problematic.
"Somebody asked me if we were playing to get into the NIT,'' Huggins said.