MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The easy thing to do following Saturday's loss to No. 11 Oklahoma State would be to point out West Virginia has lost 15 straight games to ranked teams and still hasn't beaten a team above the Mountaineers in the Big 12 standings.
Neither will change with tonight's 7 p.m. home game against Texas.
It would be easier, though, to acknowledge the obvious. WVU is frustratingly close and can't explain why it can't get any closer or why things went the way they did at the end of the 73-72 loss to the Cowboys.
"I don't know," coach Bob Huggins said. "I don't know why the ball didn't go in or why we didn't tip it in. If the ball goes in, we're sitting here talking about how far we've come. We got it at the rim with the guy who's finished more goals at the rim than all the other guys on the team put together. We got what we wanted."
True, except a way to change the conversation about these Mountaineers, winners of two in a row before point guard Juwan Staten's layup missed with a second to go and gave WVU another loss to a team with a number beside its name. Markell Brown's 3 for Oklahoma State with 11 seconds to play made sure that WVU's last win over a ranked team was against Georgetown in January 2012.
"Think about what they did," guard Eron Harris said. "They hit the shot to win the game.
"We missed the shot. That's it. We're right there."
By just about every meaningful statistical measurement, this team is better than last year's team, but the results in the biggest games are the same. Those might be different if not for a 3-4 record in games decided by five or fewer points. Two of those losses came against ranked Gonzaga and Oklahoma State while a loss to ranked Wisconsin was close late and ended with a seven-point margin.
In the 10 losses to ranked teams since the start of last season, a span for which most of this team has been together, five were by one, one, three, four and seven points.
"Once again, we lost a game that we had," guard Eron Harris said. "We almost had it and this was a big game. Everybody sees that we can beat these teams. We can beat these teams. We almost beat Wisconsin. We almost beat Purdue. Every game that's a big game, it seems like we've almost had it, but there are little things we're not doing."
Two little things proved large against the Cowboys, large enough to steer the conversation away from how good the Mountaineers have been in winning five of six and keep it on familiar talking points.