West Virginia dominated the visiting TCU Horned Frogs 73-42 this afternoon to get back on the winning track, improving its overall record to 20-5 and moving to 9-3 in Big 12 play.
Despite the early start and the less than stellar opponent, West Virginia showed no signs of sleepwalking out of the gate in this game, establishing control early and keeping a healthy 20-point lead virtually throughout the game.
With Kansas and Oklahoma squaring off against each other following this game, the Mountaineers knew they had to take care of business against TCU at home to stay atop the Big 12, and they did just that in dominating fashion.
In preparation for this game, senior guard Jaysean Paige said he and his teammates often reminded each other of the importance of holding serve at home, and not letting the opponents’ record lead you to thinking things are going to be easy.
“It was just being ready in practice and talking about it over and over again throughout the day and yesterday. We take nothing for granted. It’s a big win. We’re in first place right now, and we don’t want to let that slip. Every game is important right now, and we know everybody is going to come after us and we’ve just got to be ready to play,” he said.
Yesterday, senior forward Jonathan Holton was reinstated after serving a four game suspension for a violation of team rules. Holton came off the bench today, but that was the only thing different about his game. The head of West Virginia’s press brought the same energy he normally does, and helped the Mountaineers force 26 turnovers in the game.
“It’s the same role he’s had all year. He’s an energy guy. He’s going to play hard, rebound the ball and hit open shots when he’s open. He’s going to bring that energy, and that’s what we need with the way we play. We’re looking forward to having him back,” Paige said.
As a player who has had a considerable impact coming off the bench this season, Paige had some words of advice for Holton if he does end up forming to that role down the stretch.
“You know, just watch the game and get a feel for it. You get to see how everything is going wherever you fit in. You get in where you fit in. If you watch the way the game is going you get a better feel for it. I do, at least. Just come in ready to play,” he said.
Despite the rather drab competition on the afternoon, there was a major milestone reached by one West Virginia player today. Devin Williams secured his 11th double-double of the season, and also went over 1,000 points for his career with a bucket in the second half.
The West Virginia big man ranks 10th in program history with 28 double-doubles, and could conceivably crack the top-five with another season in Morgantown.
Records are nice, but the Mountaineers are aiming for higher goals than just personal achievements. Next up on their path to a Big 12 title is a trip to Austin to take on the Texas Longhorns Tuesday night; the same team that handed them their only home loss of the season three weeks ago.
West Virginia's training staff will have to keep an eye on how Daxter Miles Jr. is doing before that trip, as he was carried off the court by his teammates with ice on his hamstring following today's win.