Huggins Thought WVU’s Defense Turned Things Around

Huggins Thought WVU’s Defense Turned Things Around

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins has always been of the opinion that if they’re going to keep score, you might as well go ahead and win.

That’s true even of the CBI, which obviously isn’t the postseason tournament Huggins and his Mountaineers wanted to be in.

But if they’re in it, they might as well win it.

West Virginia
West Virginia’s Logan Routt (back) and Jordan McCabe (right) amp up defensive pressure against a Grand Canyon opponent

Step one of a five-step process was taken care of Wednesday night, as West Virginia pulled away for a 77-63 victory over Grand Canyon (30-24) in the first round of the CBI.

WVU trailed early, but hit a 22-2 run midway though the second round to secure the victory.

I think we came out really flat, and we kept trying to sub and get the right group in there that could do a better job defensively,” noted Huggins, whose club improved to 15-20. “The defense turned everything around for us. We started taking things away; they weren’t able to run what they wanted to run, and we got a couple steals that led to layups. I think the defense, I mean everybody I (have) can dunk, but I don’t know if all of them play defense. I was happy with those guys that guarded.”

The CBI allows the young Mountaineers, who are now starting two juniors and three freshmen, an opportunity to gain more game experience.

“Well, I think every time these guys play, they get something out of it,” noted Huggins. “You know, (freshman forward) Derek (Culver) and (freshman guard) Jordan (McCabe) didn’t play particularly well today, for them. I mean, most guys (that) get 10 rebounds, you say they played pretty well. But we’ve come to expect a whole lot more from Derek, and honestly, we’ve come to expect a whole lot more from Jordan. I was happy we finally started playing defense. When you let them just do what they want to do, they are really good. They pass it well, they shoot it well. We started pushing them out further, and they were starting their offense out further. We were in passing lanes. What turned the game around, probably, was the two steals at the end of the first half. When you have to work that hard to get to the ball, it wears on you.  We couldn’t get any transitions in the first half, and then half-way through the second half, we got a bunch of transitions.”

With the win over Grand Canyon, WVU move on to round two of the CBI. It will host Coastal Carolina (16-16) Monday night at 7 p.m.

Other Bob Huggins’ comments from Wednesday’s victory over the Antelopes:

On if he expected Grand Canyon to be so physical – “Well, I watched them on film, and I knew they would be physical. They’re not just big, they’re skilled. They pass it well, they shoot it well. And that’s what I kept telling our guys. We have to push them out of their comfort zone. If you let them play comfortable, they are really good; really, really good.”

On junior forward Logan Routt leading the momentum – “He’s a great kid. I wasn’t very happy with him in Kansas City (in) the last game. He says, ‘Coach, keep on me, keep on me. I want to get better.’ It’s not a, ‘Well, you’re picking on me thing.’ It’s, ‘Keep on me, keep helping me get better.’”

On junior guard Chase Harler’s production tonight – “Chase shot it unbelievably well yesterday in practice. I’m watching him warm up, and he and Jordan were the first two guys out here. You guys wouldn’t have been in, it was too early for you guys to get here. They were in here making shots. Both of them were making shots. Chase really was making shots. I told our coaching staff that we have to get Chase started. I thought we had a pretty good look for him, and he shot it over the rim. He came back and shot the three that he hit right in front of the bench, that was key. That’s what I thought started the run. I’ve had a lot of confidence in him because I watched him make shots for two days.”


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