Notes On A WVU Loss That Wasn’t Exactly Noteworthy
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia’s men’s basketball team lost for the 12th time in its last 14 games Monday, as the Mountaineers fell to Kansas State 65-51.
It wasn’t exactly a noteworthy performance by WVU (10-16, 2-11), but it was a game that lent itself to plenty of notes.
• With a thin lineup, Bob Huggins was forced to play those still remaining extended minutes.
Freshman forward Emmitt Matthews had played more than 18 minutes just four times all season with a high of 21 against Valpo. He had 18 minutes in the first half alone, and wound up with a career-high 36 minutes.
Freshman center Derek Culver also played 36 minutes, while junior forward Lamont West saw 34 minutes of action, and freshman guard Brandon Knapper was on the floor for 29 minutes. That’s the most playing time any of the three of them have seen all season.
At times during the game various Mountaineers signaled to the bench that they wanted a rest, but WVU assistant coach Larry Harrison had to postpone that request, because West Virginia simply didn’t have a capable substitute at that moment. West Virginia played nine of the 11 players who were dressed, but only seven of them saw extensive action, as West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins shortened his bench considerably compared to past line up.
“Trying to win, man, trying to win. Trying to win, and you try to reward the guys that work at it,” Huggins said of the short rotation. “The guys that are good in practice, those are the guys you trust. (If a) guy doesn’t know what he’s doing in
practice, he probably isn’t going to figure it out in a game, either. ”
• Former Mountaineer star Jevon Carter was in attendance at the WVU Coliseum Monday night. Now a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies, Carter has been enjoying a few days off, as the NBA is on its All-Star break. Carter presented a check of $20,000 to the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment from money his foundation, Treadmill Mentality, has raised.
• In Saturday’s loss at Kansas, West Virginia had a historically bad offensive game. It made only 34 percent of its field goal attempts and had 24 turnovers. Numbers that bad or worse had happened in just two other games in program history. WVU was far from efficient offensively against K-State, but it still was better than in Lawrence, as West Virginia had 15 turnovers and shot 35 percent. It may not exactly have been great, but it still was the second-best the Mountaineers have shot from the floor in the past four games, and that came after WVU missed its final nine shots on Monday.
• In terms of negatives, there were plenty.
WVU was 5-of-21 from three-point range, making it 14-of-78 from beyond the arc in the last four game (18 percent).
The Mountaineer aren’t a whole lot better on field goals in that span, making 65-of-201 (32.3 percent).
“They made open shots, and we didn’t make open shots. That’s basketball,” said Bob Huggins after KSU hit 9-of-23 three-pointers (39.1 percent) and 24-of-54 field goals (44.4 percent. “We need to be more consistent.”
• Meanwhile, Derek Culver finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. It was the sixth career double-double for the freshman center. Unfortunately he also equaled his career high in turnovers with five.
“Derek is a load in there, but they just kept throwing bigs in there at him,” said Huggins of the double teams Culver constantly faced. “He’s going to have to learn to score through contact.”
• West Virginia, which dismissed starters Esa Ahmad and Wes Harris last week, also remained without injured veterans Beetle Bolden and Sagaba Konate on Monday. Konate has now missed the past 17 games, and the Mountaineers are just 4-13 without the junior center in the lineup. There’s still no prediction on when Konate’s injured knee will heal enough to allow him to play again, though the hope is that Bolden, who missed six straight games with a high ankle sprain, will return to game action in the next week or two.