MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–A week ago the West Virginia basketball program was on top of the world, or pretty close being ranked second in the country.
But then reality reared its ugly head.
“We probably weren’t very comfortable being No. 2 in the country,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “I told them this in practice the other day, look at that crow’s nest up there. What do you think about that? ‘Oh that’s pretty high.’ Well that’s kind of where you are. You are one away from the top. It’s not so hard to climb up there. That fall is hard and I told them that’s about what we are getting ready to do. Our preparation wasn’t what it needed to be.”
For the second consecutive gave, sixth-ranked Mountaineers blew a second half lead and fell to No. 10 Kansas 71-66 on Monday night.
In the second half, WVU failed to make shots and execute plays. Its pressure defense was also ineffective and Bob Huggins was not happy with his team’s effort.
“They just out toughed us,” he said. “They just wanted it more than we did.”
The fiery coach claimed the Mountaineers couldn’t complete passes or run offensive plays.
“We had guys open,” Huggins said. “We just didn’t pass the ball.”
During the first half, WVU forced nine turnovers. However, after the break, the Mountaineers forced just four while turning the ball over 11 times.
Those turnovers resulted due to sloppy passes and plain old bad basketball.
WVU shot 35.7 percent in the second half and the Mountaineers put up bad shots, especially from beyond the arc. WVU was 1-of-13 from long range after the half.
“I think all of those 3-point shots were a lack of toughness,” Huggins said. “That’s the easy way out. You get a little pressure and so you’re throwing your leg out, kicking your leg out and shooting 3s. They were switching, so they switched.
“We screen a guy, the other guy comes off. Big deal so they switch it. The guy screening is between the basket, the man and the basket, which he’s open. We never one time looked at him and that’s after every timeout, saying okay when we run the flex cut, you have to look at the screener. Don’t look at the guy coming off. Look at the screener, I tried to simplify it as best I can, you’re supposed to look at the cutter and then the screener but I was like they’re switching everything just look at the screener. Please look at the screener and we never did.”
Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk are two of the best 3-point threats. Mykhailiuk will wait on the perimeter for teammates to find him. The Mountaineers left both wide open on numerous occasions on Monday night.
Huggins attributes that to people just not doing their job.
“We gave Mykhailiuk a 3 in the corner in the first half and I took the guy out and we had a timeout and I said please explain to me what you don’t understand about stay with him don’t give him an open look in the corner,” Huggins said. “Tell me what you don’t understand about that. We go in and talk about it at halftime and they come out and leave him. I don’t know what would posses you to do that. I wish I knew. We just left him wide open.”
On several occasions this season, Teddy Allen has come off the bench to spark WVU’s offense when things were bleak but the freshman never left the bench.
“I wasn’t happy with his attitude,” Huggins said.
Instead of sitting atop the Big 12 standings, the Mountaineers are in turmoil after blowing two big leads.
The youthful WVU team has a lot of maturing to do and fast if they hope to change their destiny.
The Mountaineers will look to bounce back against Texas on Saturday.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS