By Cam Huffman
After falling short at home against No. 2 Kansas on Jan. 28, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said he felt his team had the potential to go on a late run.
After winning 77-61 on the road ad Texas Tech and 60-58 at home against Texas, the first back-to-back wins in Big 12 play, WVU fans were starting to believe.
With TCU next on the schedule, many Mountaineers circled the Feb. 13 game at Baylor as the key. Win that one, most believed, and it would be four straight for the Mountaineers (11-11, 4-5 Big 12) first time all season.
Forget about the Horned Frogs. WVU beat the other new Big 12 member 71-50 just two weeks ago, and head coach Trent Johnson’s club hadn’t won a single game in Big 12 play, falling short in their first eight tries.
That was before Wednesday night. The Horned Frogs (10-12) finally found their first conference win, and it didn’t come against Texas Tech, Texas or even Baylor. The 62-55 victory came against No. 5 Kansas.
Suddenly, today’s 4 p.m. meeting against TCU at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas — which will air locally on WOAY and nationally online at ESPN3.com — is no longer a sure thing for the Mountaineers.
“I’m kind of surprised they beat Kansas, but you watch the game and they played really well,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins, who will coach his 1,000th career game today. “Kansas didn’t play as well as Kansas plays, but TCU played really well.”
TCU, now 1-8 in Big 12 play after breaking an eight-game losing streak with the win over the Jayhawks, is led by sophomore guard Kyan Anderson, who’s averaging 11 points and 3.2 assists per game.
The Horned Frogs aren’t known for their offense — ranking last in the conference in scoring offense (54.5 ppg) and free throw percentage (.590) and next-to-last in field goal percentage (.408) — but they’ve played enough defense to hang around.
TCU is No. 2 in the Big 12 in scoring defense, giving up just 58.3 points per game, and they held KU to just 13 points in the opening half Wednesday.
“They’ve always played hard, and I think they play well defensively,” said Huggins. “They just didn’t make enough shots (early in the year), and I think we can all relate to that at times.”
As Huggins implied, WVU has is own offensive problems. The Mountaineers are eighth in the Big 12 in scoring offense, averaging 66.8 points per game and are the league’s worst shooting team, knocking down only 40 percent of its shots from the field.
But WVU has found a couple of sparks in recent games. Freshman Eron Harris has started the last seven contests, and he’s been the team’s leading scorer in four of the last six, averaging 13.7 points per game over that stretch. Senior forward Deniz Kilicli is also playing better and has scored in double figures in three of the last five games.
The Mountaineers don’t have a single player averaging double figures in scoring, although seven average at least seven points per contest. Junior center Aaric Murray leads the way with 9.7 points per game, while sophomore guard Juwan Staten is averaging 9.6 points per outing, to go along with a team-high 62 assists.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.