Four Mountaineers reached double digit scoring totals as West Virginia topped TCU 86-66 to advance to tomorrow’s semifinal game against the winner of the Oklahoma-Iowa State matchup. It was West Virginia’s first win in a conference tournament game since the 2010 Big East championship game against Georgetown.
Junior forward Devin Williams tallied his 14th double-double of the year with 18 points and 13 rebounds on the night. His partner in the paint, senior Jonathan Holton, chipped in eight points and nine rebounds. WVU finished with a 36-29 advantage in total rebounding.
WVU’s final edge in rebounding was not indicative of how the game went, as TCU held its own, and even looked like the more aggressive team on the boards for much of the contest. But as crunch time came, Williams and the Mountaineers showed a hunger for the ball that TCU couldn’t match, which helped WVU close this one out.
“I think that happened toward the end. I think particularly Devin did a good job of rebounding all of their misses. Jon kept the ball alive toward the end of the game. We were trailing them rebounding wise all throughout the game. That’s not who we are…We were able to finish the game strong,” said WVU associate head coach Larry Harrison on IMG’s Mountaineer Postgame Report.
The Mountaineers got another big night from their guards, as Jaysean Paige, Jevon Carter, Tarik Phillip and Daxter Miles Jr. combined to score 48 points tonight, most of which came in the second half.
“I think if you look at us throughout the season those four guys not only on the offensive end but on the defensive end have been why we’ve been successful…I really wasn’t pleased in the first half with their production, but boy in the second half they were something,” Harrison said.
The guards led a hot shooting effort from the Mountaineers, as they converted on 55-percent of their field goals in the game while holding TCU to a 35-percent shooting clip. The Mountaineers made 11-of-24 3-pointers in the game.
West Virginia’s scalding shooting pace wasn’t enough to make TCU quit at any point in this game however, as the Horned Frogs stayed within a 10-15 point margin for virtually the entire second half.
In the game’s final eight minutes though, WVU showed why it finished second in the conference regular season standings, putting the Horned Frogs away with authority to close out a 20-point win.
“We got to a point in the last seven eight minutes where we just said let’s just win this game, whether it’s by five or 15…I think the fact that we pressed them throughout the game, I think it wore them out toward the end,” Harrison said.
While TCU and West Virginia ended the contest with 14 turnovers apiece, it was plain to see the effect of WVU’s press in the game’s closing minutes with the Horned Frogs playing their second game in as many nights.
West Virginia’s attention now shifts to resting up, and using the few hours they’ll have tomorrow to prepare for either Oklahoma or Iowa State in tomorrow night’s semifinal.