Mountaineers defeat TCU
MORGANTOWN – It came against Big 12 basement-dweller TCU, but it could have come against the 2006 New Jersey Institute of Technology team and it wouldn’t have felt any different.
Having not won a game since Jan. 9 and mired in a three-game losing streak, West Virginia got a career-high 19 points from freshman Eron Harris and 11 points and eight rebounds from the recently whispery Deniz Kilicli in a 71-50 victory against the Horned Frogs on Wednesday night at the Coliseum.
“That was our main thing in practice all week,” guard Terry Henderson said. “We have to win this game. If we don’t win this game, it’s going to be bad, like really, really bad.”
Still, it wasn’t enough to make Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins happy. He was a little smiley after a first half in which West Virginia (9-9 overall, 2-4 Big 12) completely took TCU out of its offense and forced 10 turnovers while building up a lead that once reached 15.
“In the second half, we stopped guarding, which has been kind of what we do,” said Huggins, who tied Don Haskins for 19th place on the all-time winningest coach list at 719. “We scored a lot of points off our defense in the first half and scored very little off our defense in the second half.”
Still, unlike past games, the Mountaineers, who led by 13 at halftime, didn’t led their foes get back in it.
TCU got it to 11 at 55-44 with 7:26 left before West Virginia went on an 8-0 run during the better part of the next four minutes. It never dipped under double figures.
“Usually when we had those leads and teams come back, we stopped being aggressive,” Henderson said. “Making turnovers and not playing as hard. All of that has to stop. I think we stopped it (Tuesday night).”
Harris’ contribution extended beyond the points. He filled the box score with three rebounds, two assists, made 7 of 10 free throws and was 2 of 3 on 3-pointers while playing a team-best 27 minutes.
“He was being aggressive, making shots,” WVU guard Jabarie Hinds said. “Driving the ball, drawing fouls, just making himself known he’s on the court. That’s something he needs to keep up.”
The loss was the sixth in a row for TCU (9-10, 0-6), all in league play.
This is a program that finished fifth with a .500 record in the Mountain West Conference a season ago and is having a tougher time adjusting to the Big 12 than the Mountaineers are.
“Our deficiencies as a basketball team reared their ugly head again,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said.
The Mountaineers weren’t too worried about that.
“It’s definitely good to get rid of the losing streak,” Hinds said. “To get on a roll, you have to start with one. Hopefully we can make something happen from here on out.”
That will be news, considering the Mountaineers’ next two games are at Oklahoma State on Saturday, then back at home Monday night against what figures to be the No. 1 team in the country in Kansas.
Hinds also reached double figures with 10 points.