By Cam Huffman
Can the West Virginia University men’s basketball team build on Wednesday’s 71-50 victory over Texas Christian University?
The Mountaineers (9-9, 2-3 Big 12) will have an opportunity to do that in today’s conference contest on the road at Oklahoma State (12-5, 2-3 Big 12).
I thought WVU showed improvement in some play phases against TCU before 7,094 — the smallest home crowd for a conference game since Jan. 28, 2009.
West Virginia shot 43.1 percent from the field (25 of 58), outrebounded the Horned Frogs by 42-30, and forced 17 turnovers which resulted in 20 WVU points.
The Mountaineers also had three scorers in double figures. Freshman guard Eron Harris tallied a career-high 19 points, senior forward Deniz Kilicli had 11 and Jabarie Hinds 10 points.
Kilicli and reserve Dominique Rutledge were the top rebounders with eight each.
West Virginia also worked the ball around for 15 assists, with no less than nine contributors, and came up with 12 steals.
However, neither coach Bob Huggins nor the players were really celebrating the triumph. This, despite the fact it broke the team’s three-game losing streak.
For one thing, the Mountaineers’ accuracy at the foul line was terrible. They made only 16 of 31 free throws (51.6 percent). WVU had committed 23 personal fouls.
“I guess after all these years, I’ve learned that you don’t give them bad when you win one,” Huggins said. “But I’m not very happy.
“I thought we played really, really hard. Defensively, we did the things we’ve done for a long time.
“But in the second half, we stopped guarding, which is what we do.”
While it was crucial for West Virginia to win against TCU, it still faces a tough row of foes ahead.
Oklahoma State is expected to be ready and well-prepared for today’s 1 p.m. tip-off on its home court. Then on Monday, the going gets tough when potentially No. 1-ranked Kansas visits the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers can’t afford to look past Oklahoma State’s Cowboys. “We’ve got to stay focused,” said Hinds, a sophomore guard. “It (TCU) is a win, but it’s in the past. We need to look forward to Oklahoma State.”
Travis Ford, in his fifth year as head at the school, returns four starters and nine lettermen back from last year’s squad that posted a 15-18 record.
WVU won the only previous meeting between the two schools.