Quiet Double-Double Hidden Factor in Mountaineer Win
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The exclamation point came in the closing seconds, naturally with Jevon Carter stealing the ball, naturally, and with him flipping it ahead to Teddy Allen, and, just as naturally, with Allen dunking.
That told you all you needed to know about No. 6 West Virginia’s 89-76 victory over No. 7 Oklahoma at a wild and wonderful Coliseum filled with 15,106 fans … save for one thing.
True, Carter’s defense in the first half against the nation’s leading scorer, Trae Young, made a huge difference, as did his 17 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Young finished with his average of 29 points after Carter spent 10 minutes of the second half on the bench, but they came along with eight turnovers and with only five assists.
He also was leading the nation in assists coming in at more than 10 a game.
Coach Bob Huggins had indicated coming into the game that he knew Young would get his points, but it would be key to cut his assists in half. They did. He had five assists.
“And eight turnovers,” Huggins noted.
But it wasn’t only Young that WVU was intent on stopping. Oklahoma had averaged 95 points a game coming in and scored 76.
“We were trying to stop everybody,” Carter said. “We did the job. It was a team win.”
And no, he wasn’t taking all the credit for holding Young to an 8-for-22 shooting night, 3-of-12 from 3.
“Everyone had a piece of him,” Carter said.
There’s nothing like a big game. Full house, a wonderful national anthem followed by a smart phone light show and the carpet being rolled out with the player introductions.
No. 6 vs. No. 7 … big-time basketball.
Huggins had come out before his team to an introduction and cheers, smiling and greeting fans. Then, as they were running the final layup lines, Carter and Young passed within a foot of each other at midcourt.
Neither acknowledged the other.
They got to be real close once play started as Carter was playing in-your-face denial ball and you could tell it was getting to the freshman.
Even when he made his first basket, a 3, it was a funky 3, banked off the backboard.
Everyone was into this game, the fans, the players and, particularly, Huggins. At one point, when WVU had the ball at the far end of the court, he wandered not only past the coaching box but 10 feet past mid-court … and didn’t get a technical for it.
“I saw the line and it was the wrong line,” Huggins said, meaning he saw the line that distinguished the Oklahoma coaching box at the other end of the floor. “I didn’t mean to go there. I’m pretty good staying in the box.
But the key in the first half was Carter got deeply into Young’s head.
“JC gets in a lot of people’s heads,” Huggins said.
The nation’s leading scorer, averaging 29.4 points a game, had only nine at the half on a dismal 3-of-11 shooting …his first basket coming on a 3-pointer that banked in.
Not only was his shooting off, but Carter had dogged him into four first-half turnovers, one of them coming when he tried dribbling behind his back. He got only halfway around before Carter snatched the ball away and started a fast break to Teddy Allen.
It was non-stop action throughout the half, as you would expect with a Huggins’ aggressive defense going against the nation’s top-scoring unit at 95.6 points a game, with action flying everywhere, but it wasn’t until late in the half before the Mountaineers took charge.
At one point WVU hit seven consecutive points and Carter, whose defense already was making him the player of the game, suddenly caught fire on offense.
He ran off a string of 12 straight points for WVU and that allowed WVU to go to the locker room with a 44-36 lead.
Carter’s line at the half was 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The second half would open with a different story line as Young came to life, Carter got himself into foul trouble and Oklahoma got itself back into the game, actually retaking the lead.
However, moments after Carter went to the bench with his fourth foul, Sagaba Konate said enough is enough, made two quick baskets, grabbed a rebound that led to Teddy Allen weaving his way through traffic for yet another score and WVU was up 57-53 at the 12-minute mark.
West Virginia, however, survived without Carter, even outscoring Oklahoma, 25-15.
And Allen provided the instant offense, that exclamation point dunk giving him 20 points in 24 minutes.