Mountaineers Heading Into a Storm
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Bob Huggins said after Monday night’s 60-58 victory over Texas that West Virginia’s next opponent, TCU, was going to get somebody in the Big 12 this year. At the time, the Horned Frogs were 0-8 in league play and were facing fifth-ranked Kansas on Wednesday night in Fort Worth.
Well, it turns out Huggins is now clairvoyant in addition to being a heck of a basketball coach. TCU shocked the college basketball world by knocking off Kansas, 62-55, in Fort Worth in one of the biggest upset victories of the year.
“I’m kind of surprised they beat Kansas, but you watch the game and they played really well,” said Huggins. “Kansas didn’t play as well as Kansas plays, but TCU played really well.”
The Horned Frogs (10-12, 1-8) held the Jayhawks to just 13 first-half points on the way to a seven-point victory that has to rank among the biggest wins in school history.
TCU got 20 points from forward Garlon Green and limited KU to just 29.5 percent from the floor for the game. Kansas guards Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore combined to make only 9 of 28 shots for the night while the Frogs also forced Kansas into committing 13 turnovers.
“They did a great job of screening; they made shots and they did a great job of getting second shots,” noted Huggins. “I thought their inside guys were really physical on both ends of the floor, and Kansas didn’t handle it as well as they normally handle things.”
It turned out to be the perfect storm for TCU.
Now, Huggins has to make sure his team is ready for what they could be encountering on Saturday afternoon at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
“I’m sure they’re riding high and one of two things usually happens - you either have a letdown or it really energizes you and hopefully it’s the first and not the latter,” said Huggins.
West Virginia (11-11, 4-5) is coming off back-to-back wins in Big 12 play for the first time this year, and also sports a recent 71-50 victory over TCU at the Coliseum back on Jan. 23.
“We took them out of offense and we did a pretty good job of guarding the ball - did a better job than we do sometimes of guarding ball screens,” said Huggins of what his team was able to do against TCU the first time around.
In that game, the Mountaineers got 19 points from freshman guard Eron Harris
and 11 from senior forward Deniz Kilicli
, who has been playing much, much better of late. Kilicli contributed 14 points in last Monday’s win over Texas and also had 12 points in a recent loss at Oklahoma State.
West Virginia is without a double-digit scorer 22 games into the season, but the Mountaineers do have seven players averaging at least 7.1 points per game. Junior forward Aaric Murray
comes off the bench to lead WVU with an average of 9.7 points per game. Guard Juwan State is second on the team in scoring with an average of 9.6 points per contest. He, too, is now coming off the bench.
WVU is looking for its second two-game sweep in conference play, having already done so against Texas earlier this week. But after the way TCU played on Wednesday night, accomplishing that won’t be nearly as easy as the Mountaineers originally thought.
“I think after our game (TCU coach) Trent (Johnson) went back … and they’ve got more pressure releases now, they did a great job of back cutting and they did a great job of slipping screens (against Kansas),” Huggins said. “Instead of getting all that pressure on the ball they would slip a guy and give him the ball and then you’re playing four-on-three. At that point, it’s about making good decisions and they made good decisions.”
Guard Kyan Anderson is one of two TCU players averaging double figures at 11 points per game. The other is Green, who is now averaging 10.7 points per outing.
“They’ve always played hard and I think they play well defensively, they just didn’t make enough shots,” said Huggins. “And I think we can all relate to that at times.”
Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on the Big 12 Network. Locally, the game can be seen on these stations: MASN (Washington D.C./Baltimore), PCNC (Pittsburgh), WOAY (Beckley/Bluefield), WQCW (Charleston/Huntington), WVFX (Clarksburg), WOVA-LD (Parkersburg), WTOV-DT (Wheeling/Steubenville), ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court.
MSN radio’s pregame coverage begins with the Coliseum Countdown at 3:30 p.m.