West Virginia will bring plenty of defensive chops to the court on Saturday when it travels to play reeling TCU in a Big 12 dustup in Fort Worth, Texas.
The question remains if the No. 17 Mountaineers will also bring some real offense, and the kind of all-around production that it needs to win.
The Mountaineers did just about everything right, at least for a half, on Tuesday in a 65-47 win at home over Oklahoma State that snapped a three-game losing streak. Sean McNeil and Miles McBride scored 11 points apiece to lead West Virginia in the win while interior defense and a balanced attack made all the difference.
West Virginia turned things around after a ragged first half via a 20-4 run over the first 12 minutes of the second half. The Mountaineers (19-7, 7-6 Big 12) ran away with the game down the stretch, leading by as many as 18 points.
The Cowboys scored just 14 points and shot just 16.7 percent (5 of 30) in the second half, missing eight of their last nine field goals.
“The biggest thing is we kept them in front of us,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins told reporters after the game. “I don’t care who you are if you keep people in front of you it’s hard to score. I’m just trying to win, man. We had a miserable year last year and I promised the state of West Virginia that we wouldn’t do that again.
“It gives us a little better, happier attitude going to Fort Worth and Austin.”
West Virginia is just 1-5 on the road in conference play, but the games Saturday against TCU and Monday at Texas gives the Mountaineers a real chance to improve that mark.
TCU heads home after dropping a 70-56 decision to Texas on Wednesday — the Horned Frogs’ seventh loss in eight games. TCU (14-12, 5-8) led by as many as seven points in the first half and by two at the break, but lost the lead early in the second half and never regained its stride.
“I just think we have to play better than that, we have to be a better team than that,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “And that falls on me. Just when we think we are getting better offensively we have a game like this. We have had a number of games like this that just get away from us.”
Desmond Bane led the Horned Frogs with 13 points, all of which came in the first half. Jaire Grayer and Kevin Samuel added 11 points apiece for TCU, Samuel adding a game-high 12 rebounds in defeat.
The Longhorns’ defense was the difference, especially after halftime. TCU shot just 24.1 percent (7 of 29) in the second half. The Horned Frogs missed all 10 of their shots from beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes.
“We’ve made some adjustments but we didn’t progress in this game,” Dixon said. “We are playing hard but just not well enough to win on the road. When things go wrong we just can’t seem to find our way. Defensively we are not good enough, but we will keep striving, keep coaching, keep playing.”
The Mountaineers lambasted TCU 81-49 at home in the teams’ first meeting this season, Jan. 14 in Morgantown.
–Field Level Media