MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The players rushed the student section Monday night, the fans embraced their West Virginia heroes and together they sang their favorite John Denver song after the Mountaineers thumped No. 11 Iowa State 102-77.
Perhaps they should have picked something from Buffalo Springfield. There's something happening here.
"I think a long time ago was the start of something," West Virginia guard Eron Harris said. "When we started this surge against Baylor, that was the start of something. Even though we lost to Kansas, that was still a good fight, and like I said before, we get Kansas again at home. But this started back when we were at Baylor. Things started clicking then and we're getting better and better every time."
WVU played Oklahoma State on the road from start to finish Jan. 25 and lost 81-75, thanks in large part to Le'Bryan Nash's career-high 29 points and six crowd-crazing three-point plays.
The Mountaineers are 4-1 since, beginning with a road win two days later when Juwan Staten's layup beat Baylor just before the buzzer.
WVU followed that by handling Kansas State two weeks after losing to the Wildcats by 22 points their first meeting, and then outlasted No. 21 Oklahoma 91-86 in overtime, the first win against a ranked team in more than two years.
The Mountaineers were defeated, but not deflated, in Saturday's loss to Kansas and responded Monday with their biggest margin of victory since joining the Big 12. They made 35 of 65 shots, 13 of 22 3-pointers attempts and 19 of 21 free throws. Four players scored in double figures and three others had at least eight points.
WVU scored 52 points in the first half, the most productive 20 minutes since joining the Big 12, and 50 in the second half. The team had two halves with 50 or more points in the 2011-12 season and none last season.
"How we played," Harris said, "is how we've been trying to play forever."
The Mountaineers (15-10, 7-5 Big 12) are now 25 spots higher in the RPI than they were after losing at Oklahoma State two weeks ago. They'll be no worse than two games back in the win column of the conference-leading Jayhawks entering Saturday's game at No. 19 Texas (18-5, 7-3). WVU is in fifth place in the conference standings and will be in fourth place for the 8 p.m. game on the Longhorn Network if TCU beats Oklahoma tonight.
WVU was No. 66 in the RPI on Tuesday with the nation's 50th-most difficult schedule and will have plenty of chances to improve both. The Mountaineers have games remaining at Texas (No. 26 in the RPI), against Baylor (No. 55), at Iowa State (No. 13), at Oklahoma (No. 21) and against Kansas (No. 1) and the strength of schedule projects to No. 32.