MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Here's an unusual problem for West Virginia: There's only one Kansas on the schedule.
For many teams, that would be a relief and not a dilemma. For the Mountaineers, it means there is but one team and two games to draw the best out of them.
"Against teams that weren't as good as this team - we only lost by five points to the No. 2 team in the country - if we would have played this way against those other teams, we would have won more games," WVU center Aaric Murray said.
WVU played above its reputation Monday night, but not quite up to the one belonging to the team ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll and No. 2 in the media poll in a 61-56 loss. It was the sort of effort that allowed the Mountaineers to outscore the Jayhawks by 10 points over the final 30 minutes, but one the team hasn't been able to consistently display.
And maybe the Jayhawks saw that coming.
"Before the game, they were out there shooting half-court shots, playing around, not taking it serious," Murray said. "It felt like they were taking us for granted. We wanted to come out and upset them."
Afterward, WVU realized had it approached other games like they did the first Big Monday feature in the Big 12, it might not be 9-11 overall and 2-5 in the conference with an 0-5 mark in games decided by five or fewer points.
"We're not a great team," guard Gary Brown said. "We don't have that one guy to count on. We have to play hard and compete to win and we don't compete."
The Jayhawks seem on their way to at least a share of a ninth straight regular-season conference title, something that hasn't happened in one of the major conferences since UCLA won 13 Pac 8/Pac 10 titles in a row from 1967-79.
The Mountaineers are in a tie for seventh place in the conference with Texas Tech. They play the Red Raiders at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock, Texas. It's the first of three straight games and four out of five against teams in the bottom four of the league. WVU follows the game against the Red Raiders with a Feb. 4 home game against Texas (ninth place, 1-5) in the back end of another trying Saturday-Monday sequence.
The Mountaineers then play Feb. 9 at TCU (10th place, 0-7) and Feb. 13 at Baylor (second place, 5-1) before concluding a possible season-shaping stretch at home against Texas Tech.