The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

June 1, 2013

Inaugural Big 12 season filled with memories

Ranking the 10 biggest wins of WVU’s first year in new league

This time last year, West Virginia University fans everywhere were anticipating the school’s first year in the Big 12 and wondering exactly what the new conference would hold for their Mountaineers.

The answer, they found, was a little bit of everything.

WVU’s inaugural season in the new league was filled with reasons to celebrate — like Tavon Austin’s record-breaking performance of 572 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma — as well as plenty of reasons to reach for the Mylanta bottle — like the seven-game losing streak that ended a miserable season for Bob Huggins’ basketball team.

But since the snow is gone, the sun is out and summer is just around the corner, I want to focus on the positive as I look back at the top 10 wins of WVU’s first Big 12 season.

10) Men’s basketball: WVU 57, Texas 53 (OT) — There wasn’t much to excite Mountaineer fans during the men’s basketball season, but WVU’s first Big 12 win was an exciting one on the road at Texas.

WVU trailed the Longhorns 47-37 with just 3:35 left on the clock, but the Mountaineers scored 13 unanswered points and took a 50-47 lead on an Eron Harris 3-pointer with 20 ticks remaining.

Texas tied the game with 4 seconds, when Jonathan Holmes made a 3 of his own, but WVU dominated the overtime to win 57-53 on Jan. 9.

9) Baseball: WVU 13, Kansas State 2 — When the schedule was first released, many wondered if the Mountaineers, who finished 9-18 in the Big East in 2012, would win a single game in the much more challenging Big 12.

It took one game to find the answer.

The Mountaineers completely dominated their first-ever Big 12 game, going on the road to Manhattan, Kan., on March 15 and winning 13-2 over KSU behind the arm of Harrison Musgrave and the big bat of Ryan McBroom.

8) Women’s basketball: WVU 67, Oklahoma State 61 — It was an up-and-down Big 12 debut for Mike Carey’s women’s hoops team, but one of the highlights came on Jan. 29 when the Mountaineers went on the road to face No. 19 Oklahoma State and returned with a 67-61 victory behind five Christal Caldwell 3-pointers.

The loss was just the fifth at home in the last 34 games for the Cowgirls.

7) Women’s basketball: WVU 82, Oklahoma 63 — Still riding high after lassoing the Cowgirls, WVU proved the win was no fluke when it returned home five days later and dealt a similar blow to No. 21 Oklahoma.

This one was much more convincing as Caldwell kept the hot hand and scored 24 points in an 82-63 victory, WVU’s second straight against a ranked opponent.

6) Baseball: WVU 3, Kansas 2 (12 innings) — Randy Mazey’s baseball club was performing above expectations, but many were still skeptical when the Mountaineers came to Beckley for a three-game series against Kansas beginning on April 26.

Nobody doubted WVU by the time the series was completed.

The Mountaineers found a way to edge out three straight one-run games, winning 1-0 behind Musgrave on Friday night, 4-3 in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader and then 3-2 in the series’ final game.

The last one was the most dramatic, as WVU scored on an Alan Filauro RBI single in the bottom of the 12th inning to complete the sweep in front of a packed house at Linda K. Epling Stadium.

5) Baseball: WVU 9, Oklahoma 6 — The Kansas sweep was nice for Mazey’s club, but the next weekend really put the Mountaineers on the map from a national perspective.

After dropping the first game against No. 10 Oklahoma on May 3 — a heartbreaking 10-inning affair — WVU showed poise and confidence to win Saturday’s game and even the series. Then, on Sunday, WVU completed the task, pounding out 11 hits to win 9-6 at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.

The win gave the Mountaineers a huge series victory and moved them into a tie for first place in the Big 12.

4) Women’s soccer: WVU 1, Texas 0 (OT) — There were plenty of memorable moments for Nikki Izzo-Brown’s women’s soccer team in its first season of Big 12 play. In fact, very few didn’t go the Mountaineers’ way.

 But none was any more exciting for WVU supporters than the 1-0 overtime win in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 26.

No. 14 WVU got a goal from junior Kara Blosser in the 98th minute to defeat the Longhorns and complete an unbeaten conference slate. WVU finished 7-0-1 in Big 12 play to win its first Big 12 title in any sport.

3) Football: WVU 70, Baylor 63 — The atmosphere for WVU’s first-ever Big 12 football game on Sept. 29 in Morgantown was perfect. A packed Mountaineer Field was striped in gold and blue, country music superstar Trace Adkins was there to sing the national anthem and fans were fired up for the start of a new era.

The game more than lived up to the hype.

No. 9 WVU rewrote the record books with an offensive display that had fans questioning if they were watching a football game or a video game on its way to a 70-63 win over No. 25 Baylor.

Geno Smith threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns, tossing just six incompletions in 51 attempts. Stedman Bailey had 303 receiving yards and five touchdowns, and the teams combined for more than 1,500 yards of offense as WVU announced its arrival in its new league in style.

2) Baseball: WVU 6, Oklahoma State 5 — A third-place finish in the regular season and the aid it provided to tornado victims in Oklahoma had already made the WVU baseball team a national favorite and endeared the club forever into the hearts of Mountaineer fans from coast to coast.

But Mazey’s group had quite an encore in store.

After dropping its opener at the Big 12 Tournament to Kansas on May 23, WVU fought back with a 10-3 win over TCU the next day and needed a win in its final game of pool play against Oklahoma State to stay alive for a chance to play in the Big 12 championship game.

Such a result didn’t look likely when WVU fell behind 5-0 to the nationally-ranked Cowboys, but the Mountaineers exploded with five runs in the sixth, including back-to-back homers from Ryan McBroom and Brady Wilson to tie the game.

Then, in the bottom of the 10th, Jacob Rice singled home Bobby Boyd with the game-winning run.

The Mountaineers celebrated with a pile at home plate, while most of the appreciative fans at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City cheered along.

WVU didn’t get the help it needed, as Kansas defeated TCU later that night, knocking the Mountaineers out of a chance at the title game. But it was still a memorable ending to one of the most unforgettable seasons in WVU baseball history.

1) Football: WVU 48, Texas 45 — As impressive as WVU’s 70-point effort against Baylor had been, it came at home against a Baylor team that had lost the Heisman Trophy winner from the previous season, Robert Griffin III.

It would be a different story, most believed, when the Mountaineers traveled into the heart of Texas to face the tradition-rich Longhorns the next weekend.

WVU didn’t score 70, but it did leave its mark.

In front of a Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium record crowd of 101,851 fans, the Mountaineers watched Andrew Buie run for 207 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-45 win over No. 11 Texas.

The win moved head coach Dana Holgorsen’s club into the top 5 in the national rankings, as well as into the discussion for the national championship.

— E-mail: chuffman

and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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