WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The fate of West Virginia's season may have changed with Saturday's 65-59 victory against No. 13 Georgetown at the Verizon Center, but things looked to be heading in a very different direction during Friday's practice.
"If it wasn't the worst I've ever been associated with, it's close," Coach Bob Huggins said. "We were awful."
At 1-2 in the Big East with a third straight conference road game just hours away, Huggins and the Mountaineers retreated to a film room. They ended up not looking at themselves, but looking within themselves.
"We talked about who's going to take ownership," Huggins said. "I think I'm going to be back next year. A lot of them won't. You better take ownership."
The meeting ended, the team traveled here by bus, went to bed early and literally slept on it. When the wake-up call came before the 11 a.m. game, the Mountaineers were rested and reassured.
"I knew everything was going to be good," said John Flowers said. "At breakfast, all everyone was talking about was the game and what they were going to do. We were ready."
An pretty evenly split crowd of 13,603 saw WVU outrebound Georgetown 32-23, generate 18 turnovers and play its best defensive game of the season against an opponent that usually prevents such an occurrence.
After frantic finishes in the preceding two games -- a loss at Marquette and an escape at DePaul -- the Mountaineers managed a lead that was at three points with 2:35 to go by making free throws, grabbing rebounds, forcing the Hoyas into mistakes and generally playing together better than they have this season.
"That's the most fun we've had this year," said guard Joe Mazzulla. "More than we've had in any practice, any game, any hotel. That was fun."
Casey Mitchell scored 16 of his game-high 28 points in the second half and took over different stretches with 3-pointers and three-point plays. Kevin Jones had 15 points and eight rebounds. Truck Bryant had nine points, including three free throws in the final 26 seconds, plus three rebounds and three assists.
The Mountaineers (10-4, 2-2 Big East) won with a three-player bench that didn't even attempt a shot, but was still irreplaceable. Mazzulla was 5-for-6 at the free-throw line and had three assists and two steals. Cam Thoroughman didn't score but had three rebounds, a late block and two steals.
One came with 34 seconds to go and WVU ahead, 62-59. A possession later Thoroughman anticipated a pass and forced another turnover.
Danny Jennings played just four minutes, but he posted up in the first half and was fouled, made the first free throw and missed the second, but grabbed the rebound and handed it to Mitchell for a layup.
"I think if you take any individual away from our team in this game, it wouldn't have been the same," Jones said. "That's because we had a collective team effort."
Five of the eight players had at least two assists.
"We shared the ball better than we've shared the ball all year," Huggins said. "We passed up open shots to get a better one."
The win was the 50th for Huggins in road/neutral games at WVU and ended a demanding stretch for his team. Only seven of the Big East's 16 teams play three straight conference road games this season and no one was asked to do it as early as WVU.
Now winners of two in a row after a loss at home against St. John's and at Marquette, the Mountaineers play three of their next four at the Coliseum. The one trip is to Charleston to play Marshall in the Capital Classic.
"If you're 1-3 in the Big East, your resume for the NCAA Tournament doesn't look so great," Thoroughman said. "To be 2-2 with a road win against a good team like Georgetown that you know is going to have a good league record at the end changes things up a little bit.