For the Vikings (4-8), who have lost seven straight Division I games, there are plenty of positives to build around and signs that show CSU is starting to come around as a team.
"We gained a whole lot. Our biggest thing is (for our players) believing in what we do. And I thought we gained that portion of it," said CSU head coach Gary Waters. "If we do what we do we have a chance in every game. Because there are a lot of guys who have never did this before. I think they started to believe in each other. And that's a key factor for us that they can trust and believe in each other."
Norris Cole, who is fourth in the Horizon League in scoring at 17.3 points per game, continues to develop into a point guard not just a scoring guard. Cole led the Vikings with 29 points against WVU, but he also led the team with four assists.
"He was playing his tail off. He was getting into areas that were difficult for them to guard him," said Waters. "The thing I give Norris credit for he was also looking for the other guys at the same time. That tells me he's starting to learn the game of basketball as a point guard."
The Vikings' offense also received a boost from sophomore center Aaron Pogue, who has been prone to foul trouble, gave CSU a much needed post presence, scoring 11 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out.
"When Aaron is a presence down there it's hard for teams to play us because now we have an inside and outside situation," said Waters.
Pogue added, "When we went into half time coach (Jayson) Gee challenged me to go in there and be the dominant post man that I am," he said. "So I took that into mind. That's when I came out to try to do anything to win."
One move that Waters made before the game started that paid dividends was switching Jared Cunningham back into the starting line-up and putting Nigel Ajere back on the bench. After being outscored 45-11 against Robert Morris on Tuesday, CSU's bench outscored WVU's counterparts, 20-19, thanks to Jeremy Montgomery (13 points, 2 3-pointers), Ajere (5) and Joe Latas (2).
CSU might have found something in the press. With WVU becoming the eighth team (out of 12) this season to shoot 50 percent from the floor against CSU. The press kind of became the equalizer, causing WVU to commit 11 of their 17 turnovers in the second half, which led to 22 points off turnovers.
"I think we found another portion of the game that we know can help us and that is the press," said Waters. "We went to the press to speed them up and really get after them. I wanted our guys to open the game up and make it more transitional."
A reporter asked Waters after the game can this carry over to the next game? "We are going to play. I went into these three games (against nationally ranked opponents) saying guys don't worry about these three games," said Waters. "The key is to get better each and every day. So when we get into the league we are ready to play the teams in our league. These three games are serious. It is what it is."
CSU vs. OSU: The Vikes will try to snap its seven-game Division I losing streak tonight at No. 17 Ohio State (9-2). The game, which starts at 8:30 p.m., will be televised live on The Big Ten Network.
The Buckeyes are playing without their star Evan Turner, who has a fracture in his lower back after falling on his back on a dunk attempt against Eastern Michigan on Dec. 5.
"It will be a good challenge," said Pogue. "With this team (we have the confidence) we can go into any building anywhere knowing that we can compete with anybody in the nation."
Huggins on Waters: "He's done a great job (at CSU). But he has done it everywhere. So it shouldn't be a surprise. Good coaches win. Gary's won everywhere," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "Gary went to Kent and he's responsible for getting it going. Then he went to Rutgers and did a heck of a job there. They haven't been in the postseason since he left. And then he's done the same thing here. If there's a history of a guy who wins everywhere he coaches, the guy probably can coach."
CSU women upsets IU: CSU women's squad (4-5) held on to a 77-75 overtime victory against Indiana (7-4) Saturday at the Wolstein Center.
"I am really proud of the girls tonight," said Kate Peterson Abiad. "I think everything we did up to this point really prepared us for this game. It was a team effort, but when it comes down to crunch time we got to have baskets and Kailey scores them for us."
Kailey Klein, who was named the Horizon League Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Monday, led the Vikes with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
"It's such a great feeling," said Klein. "We just wanted to go out and prove that we didn't think we should have lost those two games to Wisconsin and Marquette. So we had a chip on our shoulder."
Random Notes: CSU is 1-6 all-time against Ohio State with their only win coming in a 75-73 victory at the Q during the Rock and Roll Shootout on Dec. 17, 1994.... OSU head coach Thad Matta, who coached one season at Butler (2000-01), is 4-0 all-time against CSU.... CSU is 5-31 all-time against ranked opponents. Under Waters, CSU is 4-7 against Top 25 teams.... WVU's Butler, a Newark, New Jersey native, wore a Cleveland Indians' "blocked C" baseball hat to the pressroom after the game.