It's not often that a Bob Huggins team will win after grabbing just 23 rebounds and getting obliterated on the boards, but WVU did just that in nailing down its third consecutive win. Granted, TCU isn't Kansas or Duke, but the fact that West Virginia was able to overcome a big deficiency and win shows that this team is improving, however slowly, as the second half of the conference schedule unfolds.
The Mountaineers were beaten badly on the glass in all regards. West Virginia had just five rebounds in the opening half, and trailed by 11 at the break. WVU managed to grab 18 in the second half, but much of that improvement was due to a dropping shooting percentage by TCU. The Horned Frogs ended up with 14 offensive rebounds, which led to several second chance points, while WVU had but five retrievals on its own offensive end.
Earlier this year, such a deficit would have led to defeat, but WVU battled in other areas to make up ground. WVU hit 51% of its shots from the field, including 7-10 from three point range, and also passed the ball efficiently. Assists were recorded on 17 of the Mountaineers' 22 shots from the field, and the offense was run smartly by Jabarie Hinds, who had four assists, four rebounds and four steals to go with his 12 points. That combination of good shooting and ball protection (WVU did have 11 turnovers, but forced 16), was enough to overcome the 34-23 double-digit deficit on the glass.
Of course, West Virginia can't depend on making up such shortcomings in every game. It won't beat Baylor, K-State, Oklahoma State or Kansas while doing so. However, this win, achieved in this manner, should be a lesson for this still-growing group of Mountaineers. If things go wrong, or play is subpar in one area, that doesn't mean the game is lost. There is enough talent and ability to make up for it in other areas. Eron Harris or Terry Henderson might come on to hit for or five threes. Keaton Miles and Aric Murray may clamp down defensively. Gary Browne may provide a spark with his fiery play and defensive fearlessness.
If anything has been apparent this year, it's that West Virginia doesn't do anything consistently well, so it would be unwise to count on the Mountaineers hitting 51% of their shots from here on out. Nor will they hold foes to 25% shooting in the second half, as they did on Saturday. However, they should know that they do have the ability to play well in multiple facets of the game -- and that any one or two of those could wind up being enough to get a win.