Allen, Bolden Combine For 30 Points As WVU Counters TCU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The scouting report didn’t lie, both individually and as a team.
What it showed helped West Virginia push past TCU for a much-needed Big 12 win on Monday night. In the road loss to the Horned Frogs, the Mountaineers noticed the plays had been scouted well, and that TCU’s defenders were cheating up to take away some of the options.
It figured that would be the case again, so the coaching staff offered the obvious counter: use the backdoor, and read the intentions of the opposition so as to use it against them. It worked, as West Virginia hit a pair of lay-ins off the cuts, and also scored on various screens while getting 19 assists on 31 baskets. It was among the better overall offensive displays of the year, one in which six players had between eight and 16 points in among the more balanced efforts of the season.
“We saw that they were cheating on a lot of our plays the last game and that a lot of our backdoors were open, so we just ran what they gave us,” said Beetle Bolden, who came of the bench to score 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting. “We are just taking what the defense gives us and reading what the defense does. Everybody watches tape. That’s what we did and we adjusted from the last game that we played them. You want to be better the second time around the league.”
While that wasn’t true in the upset loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, when the Mountaineers showed a lackadaisical bent to their play while again failing to protect a late lead, there was no such theme in the regular season series finale against TCU. West Virginia actually started slow and trailed by eight points early on before closing the half on a 22-8 run keyed by 10 quick Bolden points and the slashing scoring of Teddy Allen.
The reserve forward hit for a game-high 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting. When Allen hits at that high of a percentage, it’s typically because he’s made multiple lay-ups and shots from the block. That wasn’t the case against TCU, and the reason was again back to scouting.
“I think this is one of the teams that was spanking all my shots,” Allen said of the previous meeting, when he missed six of seven shots in just 12 minutes of playing time in Fort Worth. “You have to pick your spots and be patient. I don’t think it’s a them thing, I think it’s a me thing. Teams were sitting on my drives after that stretch I had. I wasn’t taking what the defense was giving me. You saw me shoot more jumpers today.”
It was another ah-ha moment for the freshman, who poured in 57 points in wins over Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Oklahoma at the start of the Big 12 slate before teams adjusted to his driving style. Allen then went into a slump, scoring zero points in five minutes of play against both Baylor and Texas Tech before discipline issues had him on the bench for the entirety of the Kansas and Texas games.
Where opponents had adjusted, the young player had not. It was a lesson, and one well-taken by Allen, who used floaters and pull up jumpers to score against TCU. There weren’t many selfish takes to the rim, and indeed the forward also managed six rebounds in 23 minutes – his second-most action this season. Which goes with a second teaching: Listen to Huggins, obey the scouting report and play hard, and the on-court time increases.
“I kinda like it when Huggins yells at me,” said Allen, who was part of a 38-8 bench scoring edge that buried the Horned Frogs. “It might seem weird, but if he yells at you it means he sees something in you. When he yells at me about something like finishing at the rim – he said he thought I wasn’t like that because I didn’t keep my head on the rim and kinda pitched it up there – then I wanted to show coach that I am who I thought he was. Huggs always stays on me with the on and off the court things to help me grow.”
It was a different Allen, which helped play off a different Huggins, one who shortened the playing time of those not hustling and substituted even more freely than usual. The result was better all-around energy from the No. 20 Mountaineers, who remain 1.5 games back of league leader Texas Tech.
“I think our energy was awesome for both halves,” Bolden said. “We came out playing and it showed on the court. Just keep it rolling. Stay focused like we did.”