WVU Gives Away Win Chances Against Texas Tech
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In a game where 50 fouls were called, split evenly between both teams, at the most crucial moment in the contest there was a no call on a train wreck of a collision that may well have cost West Virginia a 62-59 defeat to Texas Tech in its Big 12 opener.
With the Red Raiders just five seconds from their first victory ever in Morgantown and clinging to a 61-59 lead, Bob Huggins put in a play defending an out of bounds play after Lamont West had made two free throws to give him 22 points.
The play had Beetle Bolden lining up as if he were guarding the inbounds pass, then just before it was thrown in he backed off and got in position to draw a charge, which was provided by Tech’s Jarrett Culver.
Culver never saw Bolden, who last year led the NCAA in drawing charges and tried to leap over him, hitting him solidly and knocking him to the floor.
If it had happened in front of 50,000 people in Mountaineer Field instead of 10,538 in the Coliseum it would have been flagged for flagrant targeting, but instead this whistle happy crew opted for no call.
“When you up in the air and run over a guy — and the guy is stationary — when you leave the ground and jump forward it’s generally a charge,” Huggins said. “But I have not seen the tape and I didn’t have near the look that the officials had.”
“It looked like a foul,” said guard Jermaine Haley, “but one play does not win or lose a game.”
After that play, Ahmad had to foul, Texas Tech made one of two foul shots and all WVU could do was have desperation three from Brandon Knapper go astray at the buzzer.
“The reality is we were 18 for 32 from the free throw line. We’re up nine in the first half, had our best free throw shooter at the line and he went 1 for 3,” Huggins said.
Toss in 22 turnovers that allowed Texas Tech to outscore WVU 27-7 on points off them and you have the makings of a defeat.
The crowd was filled with all the anticipation that comes with an opening night, everyone curious to see how this version of the Mountaineers would stack up with the conference elite.
But they were no more curious than the players themselves, who were without Sagaba Konate, still out nursing his injured knee.
Huggins added another touch of the unknown as he gave freshman Jordan McCabe his second start at point guard and freshman big man Derek Culver, coming off a double-double, his first start.
McCabe’s stay didn’t last long as he was scorched quickly for Texas Tech’s first basket and yanked 37 seconds into the game for Knapper.
“I’m tired of the little guys standing on the side of their guy and get straight-line driven,” Huggins said. “This game’s about straight lines and we just give them up and we don’t make people work for them and I’m tired of telling them, I’m tired of trying to coach them and it’s just going to come down if you get a straight line drive on you, just come sit down and someone else a try.”
No one really knew at the time how bad McCabe’s defense had to be on that play for baskets were almost non-existent in the first half that WVU led, 22-20. Combined there were only 15 baskets in 20 minutes of basketball.
But that doesn’t half tell the story of how good the defenses were or how bad the offenses were, for the two teams managed just three assists combined while turning the ball over 22 times.
At 3:33 of the first half WVU got two free throws from Beetle Bolden to take a 22-14 lead.
All was right with the world … they thought. but they did not score again in the half.
In fact, the Mountaineers went 7:29 without a point and even though they did score one along the way, Texas Tech outscored them 19-1 as they went 10:19 without a basket.
It finally ended when Culver grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a lay in to get back to within nine.
Then what went on almost defied description because WVU was playing miserably yet crawled back into the game.
How miserably? Well, on one fast break attempt Brandon Knapper was streaking down the court and tried to pass to a trailer.
Unfortunately, the trailer was parked in the garage. No one was there, Texas Tech’s Culver picked up the ball and went down and dunked.
But WVU climbed about the West Express and as he scored seven straight points it got them to 48-48 with just 3:40 left in the game.
But they could not close the deal and now are looking at their first conference road game at Texas on Saturday.