PITTSBURGH -- The unraveling of West Virginia's 2011-12 men's basketball season ended Thursday night, with a big embarrassment on the biggest of stages.
However, it wasn't like we didn't see it coming.
Maybe the margin in a 77-54 thumping by Gonzaga wasn't expected, at least until 10 minutes into the East Region second-round game at Consol Energy Center.
That's when it already was as evident as Zags' 7-foot center Robert Sacre's 20 tattoos that Coach Mark Few's club was taking WVU star big man Kevin Jones out of the game and taking the Mountaineers out of the big bracket with him.
"They played a heck of a game on both ends of the court," Jones said after his 1,822-point, 1,048-rebound career was halted on a 13 and season-low 4 night. "They did a good job of helping down on me. My teammates weren't able to hit open shots. That's just been the story of our year this whole year."
(Social media: Regrettable smack talk.)
I'm not sure Gonzaga (26-6) needed any bulletin board material. After all, it was the NCAA Tournament.
However, guard Truck Bryant provided it for the Zags on the eve of what would be his last game in a WVU uniform.
It was like he spread mustard and relish on it, too, when asked about Gonzaga freshman guard Ken Pangos, the Canadian who leads Coach Mark Few's team in scoring.
"I look at him just as another guard," Bryant said to the assembled East Region media at Consol Energy Center. "My guards on my team are freshmen. To me, Kevin is another guard, another freshman.
"He hasn't been here before, don't know what it's like to play in this type of environment. At the end of the day, we got a freshman point guard, they got a freshman point guard. That's how I look at it."
It wasn't only Pangos who rained on the Mountaineers' parade, but you get the idea. And it was Bryant who played like a deer-in-headlights rookie, going 2-of-10 with a 0-fer first half when the Zags nearly ran WVU onto the Fort Pitt Bridge ramp out of town.
What Coach Bob Huggins needs are some players. If his freshmen don't grow up in the offseason after a last seven weeks of seemingly going in circles in trying to figure out how to play the motion offense and defend to Huggins' tough satisfaction, a Big 12 Conference debut could be testy.