- Dana O'Neil, ESPN Senior Writer
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Right now West Virginia is a curiosity, one of an ever-increasing group of bubble teams that are raising eyebrows.
By Saturday evening, the Mountaineers may actually be turning heads.
Bob Huggins' foray into the Big 12 has not gone terribly well. A lousy season last year, a slow start this season and a geographic no-man's land have combined to make West Virginia the worst thing possible -- forgotten.
But in the last two weeks, the Mountaineers have edged their way back to relevancy. Four wins in the last five, and three in a row have pushed West Virginia to a respectable 6-4 in the conference. The win against a travel-weary Oklahoma marked the first for WVU against a ranked opponent since 2011-12 and pushed its RPI to a bubblicious 69.
Beating Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma is nice. Beating Kansas at the Phog (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN) would be even bigger for both the Mountaineers' résumé and their return to the national conversation. It's the first of a torturous run for the Mountaineers -- the Jayhawks are the first of six ranked teams with which WVU will finish -- but the Mountaineers will need to gain some name brand wins to really make something happen.
Might as well start with the first.
It's not a terrific matchup. West Virginia simply doesn't have much to matchup with Kansas' inside game, but if the Mountaineers backcourt combo of Eron Harris and Juwan Staten can play as they have been, that's a pretty good equalizer.
Harris scored 28 in the OT win against the Sooners, his sixth consecutive double-figures game.
Then there's Staten. Few are playing better -- and more -- than the Dayton transfer. In that three-game win streak, Staten has played all but two minutes and is averaging 23.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists.
He and Harris will need everything they have to win at Kansas, but if West Virginia wants to be more than a curiosity, this is the time to turn some heads.