MORGANTOWN - West Virginia's overtime victory Wednesday against No. 21 Oklahoma did more than end a 16-game losing streak to ranked opponents that coach Bob Huggins derisively dismissed with an eight-letter profanity.
The 91-86 overtime thriller at the Coliseum proved a few things about who and what the Mountaineers are this season.
"I told them, 'I'm 60. You've got to stop doing this,'" Huggins said after yet another game decided in the final moments. "We need to make free throws and not throw it around. I think I could do this a little better when I was younger."
WVU (14-9, 6-4 Big 12) is also on the rise with a three-game winning streak and all the wins coming against teams in the RPI top 100. The Mountaineers had been 0-7 against the top 100 this season after losing the final 12 such games last season.
"The people that wrote us off," guard Eron Harris said, "that's their loss."
Above all else, though, is that WVU is one of those teams that through its strengths and faults lends itself to entertaining basketball.
The latest game was the eighth this season that was in doubt until the final few possessions. WVU has won on a buzzer-beater and lost when it missed one and is generally in every game.
Of the nine losses, only one was by more than 11 points. The 11-point loss was against a Texas team that shot and rebounded like crazy in the second game of what's now a seven-game winning streak. The largest loss of the season was avenged when the Mountaineers beat Kansas State by 10 points after losing on the Wildcats' court by 22 points two weeks earlier. Big 12 wins have been decided by three, six, two, 10 and five points and two games needed overtime.
The Mountaineers are capable of shooting a high percentage and making a bunch of 3-pointers, but they also have the conference's worst field goal and 3-point percentage defenses.
They've trailed five games by at least 10 points and lost them all. They've led 14 games by double digits and have lost two and nearly lost a third to the Sooners. A 14-point lead in the second half vanished and Oklahoma led by three with 44 seconds to go. The Mountaineers escaped to overtime when Harris tied the score with a 3 with 23 seconds remaining in regulation.
"It may not be a good thing all the time, but we're going to keep people on the edge of their seats," point guard Juwan Staten said. "That's not always a great thing, but nobody wants to make a mistake out there. Nobody wants to miss a shot or give up baskets, but we're going to play through it.
"Sometimes you might see us do something and shake your head and say, 'What are they thinking?' But not too long after that, you're going to see us do something good."