MANHATTAN, Kan. - The question came from a familiar face, one West Virginia coach Bob Huggins came to know seven seasons ago when he spent one season at Kansas State as the head coach.
So impressive were the Wildcats in a 78-56 victory Saturday against WVU that Huggins was asked if he felt a little responsible for the way the program had sustained itself since he led the Wildcats to 10 Big 12 wins for the first time ever, 23 wins overall and a NIT bid to end an eight-year postseason drought.
"I've got enough problems of my own," Huggins said.
For starters, WVU has lost three in a row following a 2-0 start in Big 12 play and is just 5-6 after playing then-No. 10 ranked Wisconsin in the championship game of the Cancun Classic.
But if Huggins and the Mountaineers are being honest, losses don't shock them because this team is now just 10-8 after going 13-19 a season ago.
What stung after the biggest loss of the season before a sellout crowd of 12,528 at Bramlage Coliseum, the largest crowd to see WVU play this season, was that the Mountaineers believe they lost the game as well as their once surging sense of certainty.
"I see it," said guard Eron Harris, who had struggled with his shot before rediscovering some success by scoring 21 points and making four of eight 3-point attempts against Kansas State. "That's the key. If you don't think you can do it, you're not going to do it."
WVU's first six losses of the season were by double digits. The Mountaineers showed promise by rallying from deficits and making things close and exciting late. They trailed Virginia Tech by 10 in the second half - after leading by 17 in the first half - and lost by five. They trailed the Badgers by 18 but had the ball down four late. They were losing by 25 at Missouri, but cut it to eight in the final minute.
In the seven games after the loss to the Tigers in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, WVU never trailed by more than eight points. In last Monday's loss to Texas, the Mountaineers trailed by double digits for the final 22:11 on Monday. They trailed the Wildcats by at least 11 points for the final 23:21 on Saturday.
Up next is Texas Tech, one of the three teams WVU has beaten in Big 12 play. The Mountaineers play host to the Red Raiders at 8 p.m. Wednesday after winning in overtime in Lubbock, Texas, earlier this month. Texas Tech, like WVU at 10-8 overall and 2-3 in the conference, has won two in a row.
"We've got to battle our confidence," Harris said.
Kansas State not only built a lead and kept WVU back, but held the Mountaineers to their lowest point total and shooting percentage (32.7) and matched the season-high 25-point deficit from last month at Missouri. WVU also shot 4-for-15 from 3-point range after shooting 4-for-25 from deep and just 37.7 percent against Texas.