Four? Four? Unbelievable Stat In WVU Loss
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s shooting woes and a loss of a double-digit lead were among the items highlighted by many in the 83-76 loss to Kentucky, but one item was glossed over. That was Kentucky’s second half dominance on the boards, in which the Wildcats turned a 21-20 deficit into a 49-34 thumping.
Head coach Bob Huggins pointed this out in his post-game comments, noting that his team was outrebounded by 16 in the second half, but even that didn’t narrow down the problem. His team was o.k. on the offensive glass in the final 20 minutes, grabbing nine on that end, which bested their first half result (8). It was on the defensive end where the deficit ballooned. Somehow, in the final 20 minutes, WVU collected just four offensive rebounds.
Let that sink in a minute. Four. FOUR!
It wasn’t as if UK was shooting the lights out, although the Cats did make 46.7% of their second half tries. And it also wasn’t a matter of WVU forcing a bunch of turnovers. Kentucky had just five in the second half. High numbers in either of those categories would have negated chances for offensive boards, but nothing was out of the ordinary there. What was — almost to a point that defies belief — was West Virginia’s inability to box out or even get into position for a chance at a carom.
The half started out well enough, with Sagaba Konate retrieving two UK misses in the first 2:45 of the half. To that point, WVU was up by 17 points, but then the roof fell in. The Mountaineers went 6:19 before getting another board on that end, this from Jevon Carter. And that wasn’t even the longest drought. Following that rebound, another 7:04 ticked off the clock before Beetle Bolden got West Virginia’s final defensive rebound of the game.
It almost defies belief, but somehow Maciej Bender, Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, Wesley Harris and Logan Routt combined for zero rebounds in the second half, in a combined 30 minutes of court time. In the parlance of Huggins, they got exactly the same number of rebounds as Jerry West’s statue in front of the Coliseum Blue Gate. And again, to quote Huggins, they equaled the total of that of a dead man.
There are some reasons for the low total. Konate was on the court for just ten minutes in the half. Whether or not he would have made a big difference in this stat line remains a question though, because he has to spend so much time contesting shots in the lane due to leaky perimeter defense that he sometimes is out of position to grab the ball. Kentucky’s height, reach and jumping ability is much greater than that of West Virginia, so it wasn’t a surprise to see them snatch some misses that WVU might have been expected to retrieve.
But still. Four.
It wasn’t a problem in the first half, where the Mountaineers collected 13 on defense and battled the Cats to a draw. Contributing there was better team defense from West Virginia, but when UK went to a basic single high ball screen in the second half, WVU couldn’t defend it without another player rotating to help, which left either a perimeter shooter open or a path for a slasher from the wing to get to the glass. UK had 13 offensive rebounds in the second half, and scored 18 points off them.
The total drubbing in this area, especially for WVU on the defensive end, was the real reason for the loss. The Mountaineers can overcome poor shooting and ragged offense. They scored 76 points, when getting to 70 almost always guarantees a win for them. Unfortunately, there’s another guarantee that can be made from this stat line: Get four or five defensive rebounds per game, and a loss is going to follow.