MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- In the few hours before Leap Day, West Virginia took a significant jump toward a season goal.
With the scuffling Mountaineers in need of a cure for what has ailed them in the last five weeks of basketball, Big East cellar-dweller DePaul provided a prescription for WVU success.
The opinion from the press row sitter is that West Virginia's 92-75 victory in Tuesday's Senior Night game puts Coach Bob Huggins' team (18-12, 8-9) one win from an NCAA Tournament berth for a fifth consecutive season.
"I don't know if we need any more," Huggins replied when asked about an NCAA bid-clinching wins number. "I think we're in pretty good shape. I'd feel a whole lot better with a couple more, but ..."
The 2011-12 WVU home finale was a sideline matchup between Huggins and Oliver Purnell, two of the six active major college coaches who have posted 20-win seasons at four schools.
Huggins has done it at Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State and WVU, Purnell at Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson.
The others on that list are Rick Pitino, Bill Self, Lon Kruger and Rick Barnes.
But having a name and 709 wins won't get the WVU coach a 20th NCAA Tournament trip of his career. His team has to keep playing with the verve it displayed in taking WVU to 11-5 at home this season.
An 0-10 February closed for the Blue Demons (11-18, 2-15) as WVU's two seniors - forward Kevin Jones and guard Truck Bryant - played like they wanted to make sure this was their final game in the WVU Coliseum ... so they wouldn't be back home two weeks from now as an NIT No. 1 seed.
Jones had his 19th double-double this season, with a 22-point, 16-rebound night. He is one of only two players in WVU history with at least 1,700 career points and 1,000 rebounds.
You may have heard of the other ... Jerry West.
Bryant scored 28 points, including 12-of-16 at the free throw line.
"Much to my chagrin, they played the way they played tonight in their final home game, and they really were the keys to the game," Purnell said. "We kind of targeted both of those guys, and to not leave Truck, because he not only scores, but he solidifies their offense. Jones just dominated the paint.
"When you've got an inside presence and outside presence like that, that's a great anchor for you."
West Virginia has won only three of its last 10 games, but considering recent NCAA bracket history and the Mountaineers' formidable opposition, the only way they are likely to be NIT-picked is by losing the next two games.
I think Huggins' team can afford a loss at noon Saturday at USF, but it can't follow that with a Big East Conference Tournament first-game defeat and expect to be in the Big Bracket.