AUSTIN, Texas - Gary Browne says he and his West Virginia teammates talk about it every day. Juwan Staten believes the Mountaineers were on the NCAA Tournament bubble this time last week and did more to help their cause with Monday's win against No. 11 Iowa State than they did to hurt it with the loss two days earlier against No. 7 Kansas. Eron Harris thinks all WVU needs to do is win more of the six remaining regular season games than it loses and finish with an RPI in the low 60s.
What the Mountaineers trust to be true yields to what they know is true. While they're on a good run, they haven't done anything yet.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint," coach Bob Huggins said. "We're marathoners. It's a long year."
WVU still stares at March and isn't mad to think it can play its way into the NCAA Tournament after missing last season with a final record six games below .500.
"I don't lie to them," Huggins said. "I think the worst thing that can happen is at the end of the year they say to me, 'I wish you would have told us.' I've done it all along. People say, 'Well, are you putting pressure on them?' If I was them, I would want to know.
"I would want to know what I've got to do, what our RPI is, what the RPI is for the people we're playing, what we've got to do to get our RPI in range to be talked about as a NCAA Tournament team."
WVU (15-10, 7-5 Big 12) is in the conversation and can turn up the volume with a win Saturday at No. 19 Texas (19-5, 8-3) at the Erwin Center. The Longhorns have won eight of nine games and are 13-2 at home with five straight wins.
After losing at Oklahoma State Jan. 25, the Mountaineers have won four of five and two of three against ranked opponents after going more than two years without beating a top-25 team.
"That was supposed to be the start of a tough six-game stretch with Baylor (Jan. 28)," forward Kevin Noreen said. "We got some tough wins that we had to grind out, but we really figured this would be the point in the season we really needed to focus on. Hopefully, it can serve as a springboard the rest of the year.
We have six games left in the regular season and one more game in the Big 12 tournament. We know every game is important to keep our RPI up and to get NCAA Tournament eligible."