Mug-A-Mountaineer: If any team was going to get into trouble for hitting the opponent, you'd have thought it would have been Bob "Bam Bam" Huggins' Mountaineers. Not that WVU didn't do its fair share of mugging, but the ordinarily peaceable Red Raiders followed suit by slapping, bulling and hacking their way to 23 personal fouls, and sending West Virginia to the charity stripe 23 times. This fact, combined with the Mountaineers knocking down 10 of 18 three-pointers doomed Tech.
The specifics of the foul/free throw problem were this. In the first half the Red Raiders committed 10 fouls and sent West Virginia to the line a mere five times. And Tech trailed by only three points. In the second, the Red Raiders committed 13 fouls and gave WVU 15 freebies, 13 of which the visitors converted. The Mountaineers won the second-half scoreboard by 13.
With 13 and a half minutes to play, Tech trailed by only five points. Eron Harris hit a three-pointer with 13:14 to play, and from that point on, West Virginia scored on 75 percent of their possessions. The Red Raiders, either sent the Mountaineers to the line, gave up trifectas, or turned the ball over for easy layups. They could not buy a stop. Consequently, no matter what Tech did on the offensive end, they had no hope of making up the stagger.
Tech's problem in Big 12 play has been scoring points. Against West Virginia it was their defense that let them down.
Point Pressure: I have long believed that the key to playing great man-to-man defense is locking up the opposing team's point guard. If you can do that, you thoroughly disrupt the opposition's offense and run them out of the gym. The Mountaineers almost did that against the Red Raiders.
After eight minutes of play, Tech trailed by a dozen points and had scored only four of their own. And this early deficit was due almost entirely to the rugged defense of guard Gary Browne. Whether it was Josh Gray, Daylen Robinson or Ty Nurse attempting to initiate the offense, the Red Raiders simply did not have an answer to Browne. I have not seen a better perimeter defender this season. The closest thing Tech has to Browne is Toddrick Gotcher. I would like to see him start games and be tasked with shackling the opposing point guard.
How Tech Avoided Early Disaster: The Red Raiders managed to rally late in the second half by passing much more and dribbling much less, punching the ball inside, and burning the WVU defense with back-cuts and dives to the hoop. This was a good adjustment by the Tech coaching staff.
How Long Will the Tradition Last? I like the new tradition (Is that an oxymoron?) of Raider Red coming to midcourt on a Hog prior to player introductions. This is unique and it is cool. But I wonder how long it will last. The motorcycle pumps out beaucoup smoke and fumes. I figure it is only a matter of time before the Waffen Health SS puts an end to the fun.