Mountaineers Bombed By Texas A&M In Basketball Opener
By Cam Huffman
West Virginia, ranked No. 11 in the nation to start the season, dropped a bomb on No. 25 Texas A&M at the season-opening Armed Forces Classic at Ramstein Air Force base in Germany Friday night. The Aggies responded with a crushing counter attack.
Up by as many as 13, 23-10 in the opening half, the Mountaineers saw Texas A&M end the half on a 35-15 run to take a seven-point advantage into the locker room. The Aggies then dominated the final 20 minutes on their way to an 88-65 victory that left WVU searching for answers.
After the opening 10 minutes that saw the Mountaineers knock down 3s and force turnovers, not much went right for the boys in gold and blue – wearing special camouflage uniforms in honor of Veterans Day – especially on the defensive end. WVU’s trademark “Press Virginia” defense forced 18 turnovers, but it also allowed the Aggies to shoot 48 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from 3-point range.
When Texas A&M wasn’t knocking down shots from the field, it was getting to the foul line, where it scored 16 points on 20 attempts, compared to just five free throws for the Mountaineers, two of them on a technical foul. In desperation, WVU tried a 1-3-1 zone late in the second half, but the Aggies navigated it like a expert pilots, cutting through the defense for easy looks at the basket.
Texas A&M junior center Tyler Davis led all scorers with 23 points and collected 13 rebounds for his second double-double in as many years against the Mountaineers. DJ Hogg, a junior forward, scored 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists, while junior guard Admon Gilder led the perimeter attack with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
WVU had no answer for the Aggie big men in the paint. Sophomore forward Sagaba Konate did block four shots and pulled down six rebounds, but be had only four points. Lamont West scored eight points but was just 3 for 11 from the field, and Wesley Harris, who knocked down a couple of 3-balls early, went cold late in the game and finished just 4 for 12 from the field. Texas A&M dominated the boards, pulling down 47 rebounds to just 35 for WVU.
Even the Mountaineer backcourt, filled with experience and talent, struggled to put the ball through the net. Jevon Carter scored 13 points and dished out seven assists, but he was just 4 for 11 from the field. Daxter Miles hit just one of his six shots.
The lone bright spot for the WVU offense was sophomore James “Beetle” Bolden, who came off the bench to knock down five 3-pointers and score a career-high 19 points.
As a team, though, the Mountaineers shot just 34 percent. Forty of their 70 shot attempts came from 3-point range. They continued to fire away from downtown, despite shooting just 30 percent, and never displayed any comfort level attacking the hoop against the A&M big men.
WVU will fly back home to prepare for its home opener on Wednesday in Morgantown. The Mountaineers take on American University at the WVU Coliseum at 7 p.m. that night.