That is the Mountaineers' hope. As good as they've been through more than half of the Big 12 season and while playing the nation's 68th-most difficult schedule, things are about to get harder. Eight regular season games remain and seven are against teams in the RPI's top 45 with six against the top 25.
The Mountaineers are in fourth place in the Big 12, but play four games against teams above them in the standings - and three are on the road. WVU has two games to go against No. 16 Iowa State (17-4, 5-4), which has the league's highest scoring offense, and No. 8 Kansas, which leads the conference standings.
The first meeting with the Jayhawks (18-5, 8-1) is Saturday (ESPN, 4 p.m.) at Allen Fieldhouse.
"We play a style of basketball that we should be able to play in any gym," Staten said. "Coach talks about that a lot, too. He really enjoys having a team that can go into any gym and play the way it's supposed to play. That's what we're going to do. We're not scared to play anybody. We're not scared of any crowd."
WVU had one of its worst experiences on the way to a 13-19 record last season in a 91-65 loss at Kansas. The Mountaineers led by seven in the first half, but gave up 26-9 run when they missed 15 of 18 shots, including nine in a row. Four of those nine were blocked, and Kansas finished with 13 rejections. The Jayhawks then started the second half making 12 of 15 shots, each basket with an assist, and made eight straight 3-point attempts.
The game got away from WVU before a crowd of 16,300.
"I can't wait to get there," Harris said. "I'll let our guys know, because I've been through it, what they've got to do. I've got to let them know what's up. I've got to make them comfortable so they know who's got their back, so they know what's coming and so they know how to handle it."
These Mountaineers actually rely on more first-year players than last year's team. They were crushed by Kansas State and its crowd of 12,528, the largest crowd for a WVU game this season, but they played to the end at Oklahoma State and a crowd of 10,011, which is the second-largest road crowd. The Jayhawks, though, have won 170 of 179 home games in coach Bill Self's 11 seasons and 116 of the past 120.
"Their team is good, but we're going to get our scouting report on them and we're going to know the ins and outs," Harris said. "As far as anything else, I'm going to tell that it's going to be a big crowd. It's going to be packed hours before the game, they're going to be talking trash in there, so get your head right. The ball is the same as the one at Oklahoma State. The refs are not going to give us any calls, so don't trip on that. Do not get mad about that. Just play."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.