It was a performance that head coach Bob Huggins wasn’t happy about, but at the end of the day reminded him of a saying that former UCLA coach and Charleston native Jim Harrick told him one year when they coached the World University Game together.
“I’d rather have the ball than not. I’d rather be up than down,” Huggins said. “I’d rather win than lose.”
If there has been one thing West Virginia has been able to do early in the season to prove itself up to this point, it has shown the ability to wear opponents down and run away with games using its energy and enthusiasm to succeed with its full-court pressure and success on offense.
Although the Mountaineers were able to get the win against the Red Raiders, that was something that wasn’t there for them Monday.
Texas Tech had a lead early, and once WVU bounced back and jumped out to a double-digit lead, a 10-0 Red Raider run tied the game up and kept it close throughout the remainder of the first half. No matter how well the Mountaineers would play for stretches throughout the contest, that lack of energy came back to haunt them and allowed TTU to work its way back in the game and keep it close down the stretch.
“If we don’t have attitude and enthusiasm, or attitude and intensity, we’re not any good because we don’t make shots,” Huggins said. “We have to rely on stealing the ball and scoring and transition baskets and making some hustle plays and getting some offensive rebounds and scoring. That’s an area we didn’t do a very good job.”
The Mountaineers still wreaked havoc on the defensive end of the floor, forcing 22 Texas Tech turnovers, but they were only able to turn those mistakes into 18 points on the other end. Meanwhile, they struggled to make some open shots and play ugly.
“ We’re not going to continue to win playing the way we did today, it’s just not going to happen,” Huggins said. “Those guys that played bad, they’re in there and they feel bad. And they feel bad because they let their team down, which is a good thing.
“I walked in and they said, ‘Wanny’s in there throwing up,’ and I said, ‘Good.’ That’s a good thing. That’s what players do. Players play under adverse conditions and respond. That’s what they do. That’s what we’ve got to get back to.”
Senior point guard Juwan Staten missed Saturday’s win against TCU but returned to play 37 minutes Monday. After trying to force the issue a bit too much, in Huggins’ opinion, in the first half, the Big 12 preseason Player of the Year settled down in the second half and finished the game with a team-best 16 points, four rebounds and an assist.
For the second game in a row, sophomore forward Devin Williams was impressive for WVU. In the second half, the Cincinnati native stepped up and played well. Williams finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and had six rebounds.
“ He played a really good second half. In the second half, he let the game come to him. In the first half, he had a tendency to force it. He made some shots, which always helps,” Huggins said.
WVU will return home Saturday to take on Iowa State.