Out With A Thud
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — That thud you heard around 9:15 on Monday night was West Virginia’s men’s basketball team crashing back to earth, ending as it started with an unexpected and embarrassing 109-91 defeat.
It was the first time anyone had scored 100 points against WVU since Wake Forest scored 105 points in an double-overtime game in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
Coach Bob Huggins kept his freshman star, Derek Culver, on the bench for the first half after he was late before the game. The players did not know Culver would not play until “two or three minutes before game time.”
“He was late,” Huggins said. “This whole mess started because I compromised my principles. You try to help people, and some people, you can’t help.
“I don’t know. This country has gotten so into individual rights, they don’t give a damn about anybody else. You have 13 guys on the team, you can’t do everything in the world for one guy when it’s detrimental to 12 others.”
The Mountaineers, playing in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational, a pay-to-play tournament in which they paid $40,000 for each of two home games, were simply shot out of the Coliseum by Coastal Carolina.
The Chanticleers shot 58.1 percent from the floor while handing the Mountaineers their 21st loss in a 15-win season, a season Huggins acknowledged as “one of the worst in West Virginia basketball history.”
DeVante Jones led Coastal Carolina with 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Emmitt Matthews and Lamont West scored 21 each for West Virginia.
This year, in which WVU was ranked 13th in the preseason poll and picked to finish third in the Big 12, began with an opening loss to Buffalo and never got much better as it suffered through suspensions and growing pains, finishing last in the conference.
WVU was down 14 at the half but Coastal Carolina made sure they did not come back by hitting 10 of its first 13 shots of the half. They finished shooting 66.7 percent in the second half.
“This game was like a lot of games this year,” added freshman guard Jordan McCabe. “We let the other guy swing first, to put it into a fight analogy.”
The night started with a surprise that demanded an explanation, but none was forthcoming as Culver sat the entire first half as Coastal Carolina took a 50-36 lead over a sloppy WVU team.
Twelve minutes in there was a brief “We Want Culver” chant from the student section, which was having trouble believing what it was seeing.
The Mountaineers were getting out-shot, out-rebounded and out-hustled and still the best freshman in the Big 12 wasn’t budging off the bench.
When the score grew to 44-30, there was a much louder “We Want Culver” chant but Huggins wasn’t biting, even going down to talk to Culver but not putting him in the game.
The chant could not have done much for the attitude of the West Virginia players, although they took it for what it was.
“Derek has had 20-20 games,” Matthews said. “Fans want that. We have the best fan base in the country and they can voice their opinion.”
And they did.
He might have made a big difference for Logan Routt, who started, got three quick fouls and Andrew Gordon, who replaced him, had his own issues.
Lamont West tried to play some at the five position but that, too, was a failed experiment as he finished the half with two of eight shots made, which wasn’t quite as good as the team’s dismal 13 for 39 shooting performance that included 4 of 18 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, Jones was carving the Mountaineer up for the Chanticleers. Averaging 13.8 a game coming in, by halftime he had 20 of Coastal Carolina’s 50 points, making 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and adding six rebounds and four assists.
When the teams came out for the second half, Culver spent the warmup shooting free throws.
Then, as the team huddled, Culver stripped his warm up jersey off to a loud cheer.
But Jones wasn’t about to let it change the flow of things, going right at Culver and scoring the first points of the second half.
Culver, looking hyped, went down at the other end and drew a foul, something he leads the world at doing, and was playing well but Coastal Carolina was unconscious, hitting 10 of their first 13 shots to take a 74-51 lead.
“They shot the cover off the ball,” was the way guard Jordan McCabe put it. “But we did not play good defense. Defense is a will thing. It’s them against you. The guy who has the most will will win.”
“It ws a rough night. It seemed like they couldn’t miss anything,” added Jermaine Haley.
You’d think Coastal Carolina would be due for a cold streak, but they just kept pumping them up and in. Tyrell Gumbs-Frater, who was 0-for-4 shooting in the first half, canned two long-range threes and when Jones hit another three and followed it with another two to reach 30 points, the lead was at 82-58.
WVU could do nothing to stop the onslaught. They were playing far better offense in the second half but every time they scored, so did Coastal Carolina … 11 times in a row. It’s hard to gain ground that way and as they broke for the under-8 minute media timeout the Chanticleers were still up 92-69.