More than once this season, veteran coach Bob Huggins has felt the need to go off on his West Virginia squad at halftime. Saturday afternoon was another occasion when the Mountaineers hadn’t performed to their potential in the first half, and Huggins shook them up to get their attention.
“We were about as bad as we could be in the first half,” Huggins said. “This group will step up and try to meet the challenge.”
Huggins and the No. 10 Mountaineers will look for a more consistent performance Tuesday night when they travel to play TCU in Fort Worth.
Saturday they needed to rally from a 19-point deficit in the second half to beat No. 12 Texas 84-82 in Austin. Sean McNeil scored all 16 of his points in the second half and West Virginia (15-6, 8-4 Big 12) hung on despite his two turnovers in the final 11 seconds of the game.
The Mountaineers have won four of their past five games, with the lone defeat coming in double overtime against Oklahoma.
The Horned Frogs (11-9, 4-7) are coming off an ugly 62-54 loss to Kansas State on Saturday that ended the Wildcats’ 13-game losing streak. Kansas State had not won a conference game since Dec. 15 when it defeated cellar dweller Iowa State.
TCU led by five with 5:01 left after a three-point play by Mike Miles, who finished with 13 points. But Kansas State went on a 10-0 run and never trailed again. TCU was outrebounded 38-32 by Kansas State and outscored 30-16 in the paint.
“They kept battling and came up with the loose balls,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “That’s when the rebound numbers flipped.”
RJ Nembhard led the Horned Frogs with 14 points and continues to pace the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game. Miles is averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 83.1 percent from the free-throw line and 38.1 percent from 3-point range.
TCU made 20 of its 23 free-throw attempts but connected on just 4 of 18 attempts from 3-point range and shot 31.9 percent overall.
“Our assist numbers the last few games have clearly shown that we are not getting the shots we want to get,” said Dixon, whose team recorded only six assists in the loss.
West Virginia’s victory over Texas avenged a 72-70 loss to the Longhorns on Jan. 9, they were undone by a 3-pointer by Andrew Jones with 1.8 seconds left … but Saturday, Jones’ 3-pointer with four seconds left was off the mark.
The Longhorns shot 54.2 percent overall and 53.8 percent (14 of 26) from 3-point range against the Mountaineers, but West Virginia tightened up the defense down the stretch.
As Mountaineers forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. said, “We got them to take some shots that were questionable.” They also capitalized on 16 Texas turnovers.
Miles McBride also keyed West Virginia’s comeback with 17 points while Derek Culver, Taz Sherman and Matthews each scored 14.
TCU and West Virginia split last season’s meetings, with each team winning at home.
–Field Level Media