WVU Brutal In Loss To Florida
In a game that resembled the 1979 cult classic film The Warriors, Florida outbattled West Virginia to take home a 66-56 win in the nightcap of the Jimmy V Classic. In this one, the Mountaineers definitely did not come out to play.
Both the Mountaineers (5-3) and the Gators (5-3) set the game of basketball back a number of years. With no semblance of flow or efficient play, both teams suffered through long scoreless droughts, enduring turnovers and missed shots to keep the numbers on the scoreboard frozen.
The box score tells the story. Fifteen turnovers, 33.3% shooting from the field, and 28.6% from the free throw line. And that was the stat line for the winners. Somehow, Florida weathered those, as well as a scoreless drought that covered 8:55 over the end of the first half and the start of the second, to record a ten-point win. Were it not for Chase Harler’s 11 points inside the final five minutes, or Florida’s inability to take advantage of the numerous Mountaineer miscues, the gap would have been much worse.
West Virginia got off to a rough start, as the Gators pushed out to a double-digit lead with 8:04 to go in the opening half. The Mountaineers reverted to their play from earlier in the year, when turnovers were the most notable feature of the offense. At one point, WVU had committed nine against just one assist, and it looked like a blowout was in the offing, especially when Beetle Bolden and Sagaba Konate went to the bench.
In the last seven minutes of the half, though, the Mountaineers rallied. Jermaine Haley steadied WVU at the point, fueling a 14-4 run that cut the margin to 30-27 at the half. It was a team effort, with six different players scoring during the run.
It seemed as if WVU had righted itself, as it opened the second half with a pair of dunks to take a 31-30 lead. From that point on, though, the Mountaineers were as beleaguered as the titular gang in the film, beset by a lengthy Gator zone defense and horrible shooting from the field. Florida embarked on an 18-2 run, and that wasn’t even the worst of it. The Mountaineers countered with a scoreless drought of 8:35 of their own as the Gators reestablished their double-digit lead.
If the numbers for the Gators were bad, they were horrific for WVU. The Mountaineers made just four of 20 lay-up attempts, and were 1-17 overall during one stretch of the final 20 minutes. Add in 21 turnovers, an 11-20 showing at the free throw line, and a clanking 19-64 performance on all shots from the field, and there was simply no way West Virginia had a chance to win, even with the bad showing the Gators recorded.
Harler’s late 3-point barrage made him the leading Mountaineer scorer in the game with 11. Wes Harris had nine, with Esa Ahmad and Brandon Knapper each recording seven. Ahmad had nine rebounds, while Sagaba Konate had six, followed by Harris, Haley and Drew Gordon with five each. Haley was a bit of a bright spot, finishing with five assists in 26 minutes of action.
West Virginia next renews the Backyard Brawl, hosting Pitt at noon on Saturday in the WVU Coliseum.