MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Jabarie Hinds had all the incentive he needed to exhale, to release the pressure that had been mounting in previous games and embrace the relief that came with his performance Tuesday night.
In the four games before the 92-75 win against DePaul, the freshman from Mount Vernon, N.Y., had problems. He had made just six shots and missed 24 and totaled but 15 points.
Worse yet, he could look around the locker room after a game, which was usually a defeat, and see teammates going through similar struggles.
Against the Blue Demons, Hinds shot 6-of-8 from the field for 14 points. The Mountaineers had won for just the third time in 10 games and they seemed to break free from whatever was holding them back. It was their best shooting night in six weeks and their highest point total since the third game of the season.
"Everything is not fine," Hinds said. "We've got to keep pushing. We know that. We beat Pitt and we beat Providence before and we had losing streaks after them."
Best of all for Hinds, he could again look around his locker room and see likeminded Mountaineers.
"I don't think we're back to normal," senior forward Kevin Jones said. "I think it's too late to get back to normal. You just take one game at a time. I see the young guys maturing as the games keep going. I don't think it's a lack of effort. I think it's a lack of effort all the time. They've got to learn to play 40 minutes consistently."
Indeed, WVU (18-12, 8-9 Big East) has followed its past three wins with three-, two- and two-game losing streaks. Another losing streak likely leads to the National Invitational Tournament, where WVU hasn't played since winning it in 2007.
The Mountaineers have at least two games left now with the regular-season finale and then the Big East Tournament. Coach Bob Huggins said Wednesday he thinks WVU has enough wins, but added he would "feel a whole lot better" if the team continued to win and to play like it had something to prove.
"I think we're capable," he said.
It begins at South Florida at noon Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Bulls (19-11, 12-5) are 14-1 at home this season, including 6-1 in conference play with a three-point loss to Connecticut. They're billing the game as the biggest in 20 years and selling all tickets for $10 each.