MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- For a long time West Virginia had a nice thing going. If the Mountaineers held the opponent below 70 points, they won. Thirty-seven times in a row, in fact.
Then WVU played at Louisville late last month and lost even though the Cardinals managed but 55 points.
Consider, though, that game came with an asterisk. The Mountaineers could have won and extended the streak, but Truck Bryant's two missed free throws with 26 seconds to go gave Louisville the opportunity to win by a point on Peyton Siva's layup with 4.5 seconds remaining.
WVU won its next two games and allowed just 55 and 44 points along the way, but also scored just 66 and 56. The sub-70 record jumped to 39-1 and it was worth remembering entering Saturday's game against No. 12 Villanova.
The Wildcats scored 70 points or more in 16 of 22 games and were 2-4 in the games they scored 69 points or fewer - and that accounted for all of the team's losses.
WVU gave up 66 points at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday and still lost. By 16.
The Mountaineers have allowed the past five opponents to score fewer than 70 points, but haven't scored more than 70 themselves and lost two of those games.
"I said to our guys before the Kentucky game a year ago, 'I know we're going to guard. I know we'll rebound. Just make some shots and we'll be fine,' " West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins said. "And we made some shots. We just didn't make any shots (Saturday)."
That's not a new problem. WVU is No. 9 in the 16-team conference in scoring offense and No. 10 in field-goal percentage. It's a major concern entering tonight's ESPN home game against No. 4 Pitt at 7 p.m. from inside the Coliseum. Pitt's leading scorer, Ashton Gibbs, is out with a knee injury.
Saturday's loss in the rebounding battle was the first in 10 games and just the third in Big East play. The previous four opponents managed to shoot a combined 33.3 percent. The guarding and the rebounding that propelled the Mountaineers to the Final Four last season are not as strong, but remain strengths.
The scoring, which was just enough to make the approach work last season, is missing this season.
"At some point, we have to put the ball in the basket," WVU senior point guard Joe Mazzulla said. "We did a much better job of that last year toward the end of the season. We have to do that soon, but at the same time we can't lose focus of our defense."
No, because it's all connected. WVU (15-7, 6-4) started 9-for-11 in the second half against Villanova, but then missed nine straight shots, including six consecutive 3-point attempts. Villanova overlapped that by going 8-for-12.
There's no heavier baggage to lug around the floor than a shooting slump.