Repeat Performance Yields Another Loss For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It was another trip through the looking glass for West Virginia Wednesday night at the Coliseum but it wasn’t shattered glass they left behind them, it was a shattered season.
Matched up against No. 3 Kansas for the second time this season, the Mountaineers went through deja vu all over again, losing 58-49 in a game that was nearly a replay of an earlier meeting at Allen Fieldhouse when they lost, 60-53.
In that game they led, 30-24, at the half. In this one they led by an identical 30-24 score at halftime.
In that game, WVU led by six points in the second half and lost by seven. In this game WVU led by nine points with 13 minutes to go and with 5:59 to go they led by three. Then scored no baskets after that and did not score a point in the last 5:07.
At the end of the night they possessed 19 baskets and 19 turnovers and now stand 6-5 in the Big 12 with No. 1 Baylor next on the road. A loss there and they could find themselves in eighth place.
“Wins fall on the team, losses fall on the point guard, so myself and Deuce McBride take full responsibility for this, not taking care of the ball,” sophomore guard Jordan McCabe said. “We knew what we had to do down the stretch, you give them more possessions than you get, that’s how you lose.”
Kansas, now 21-3, was less responsible for WVU’s 19 turnovers than the Mountaineers were, stealing the ball 13 times in the game off of sloppy dribbling and incredibly inane passes.
“I guess the frustrating thing is we continue to do things over and over again. You don’t catch it in the post, put your head down and dribble it. You don’t do that. You are going to lose it. How many balls did we throw away? We’re trying to throw passes to guys in the post, through all those hands and things, that’s a lack of understanding,” Huggins said.
“The positive is I hope we learn from it. Sometimes guys do, sometimes they don’t.”
You’d have thought this a Final Four match up at game time. Not a seat to be had. Not a parking place either, considering there was an event at the Creative Arts Center across the street.
Even press row was shoulder to shoulder, so close the writers didn’t have room to use any of their adjectives. Fans dressed in gold, Ben Roethlisberger sitting with Steelers’ teammate Ryan Switzer at courtside. WVU football coach Neal Brown was in the stands with his daughter.
This should have been a national TV game but ESPN opted to put it on ESPN+, which in the end saved WVU from embarrassing itself with another meltdown and another 31.7 percent shooting performance.
Turned out the highlight of the evening was the Red Panda at halftime, sitting on her 10-foot high unicycle flipping soup bowls onto her head with her foot, the crowning achievement being five at one time without a miss.
If only WVU could pass the ball that well.
For the price of admission you got all that and basketball, too … hardnosed, physical, exciting basketball, WVU playing for a place high up in the rankings and Kansas thinking that maybe, just maybe if they could win this one and then WVU could upset No. 1 Baylor, the Jayhawks could leapfrog to the top ranking.
The Mountaineers dominated the first half.
“I thought that West Virginia was a lot better than us in the first half,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We were awful. We guarded OK, but we didn’t rebound it. Obviously we couldn’t score.”
But that all changed at halftime.
“In the second half, I’m not saying we played great, but we actually got some pretty good looks,” Self said. “Then we really guarded and rebounded better.”
Self made one key move and put senior guard Isiah Moss in and he scored 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers.
“I don’t know if we would have won if he wasn’t in the game,” Self said.
And the turnovers were a direct reflection on the play of KU’s Marcus Garrett.
“Who guards better than him anywhere?” Self asked. “He guarded one through five today. He took guys with game on the line. He got three steals in a row on three consecutive possessions. He’s unbelievable defensively and I really thought he controlled the game at the end.”