Just one week before West Virginia knocked off the number one team in the country by 21 points, the Mountaineers fell to an unranked Texas Tech team on a late defensive lapse that gave the Red Raiders a wide open three pointer. That lapse highlighted a myriad of mistakes on the defensive end of the court and just a few days later, head coach Bob Huggins stated that the Mountaineers may have put forth their worst defensive performance of the season in the overtime loss.
Now, after completely overwhelming freshman point guard Jaylen Fisher in a win over TCU and forcing the No.1 Baylor Bears into 29 turnovers (the most the Mountaineers have ever forced against a Big 12 opponent) the loss to Texas Tech (in which the Mountaineers forced just 12 turnovers) seems like ages ago. After West Virginia handled Baylor, many of the Mountaineer players were asked what the difference in the press has bee. Jevon Carter, who is making his case as the best defender in college basketball this season, says it's simply a matter of improved ball pressure.
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE "It was just ball pressure," said Carter. "We had been emphasizing that a lot in practice. In the loss we had at Texas Tech there wasn’t a lot of ball pressure and we didn’t feel like we were pressuring them. We knew if we got up in their face that no one likes ball pressure. We knew we were going to get after them."
Carter also spoke on the importance of putting teams away and putting the final nail in the coffin when the Mountaineers have a chance to pull away late in the game, and that's exactly what they did against the Bears, as they stretched their lead out to 26 points twice late in the second half before Huggins emptied the bench.
"(Not letting Baylor back into the game) was very important," said Carter. "That just comes with the leadership on this team and we have a lot of older guys. We have a lot of freshmen and they learn from us. When (other teams) go on a run we just have to keep our heads and keep doing what we’re doing."
Ball pressure and putting teams away are two things that Huggins has preached to his team throughout the season and if Tuesday night's dominating performance is any indication, the Mountaineers are paying attention to what their head coach has to say. After the Baylor game, a video surfaced of Huggins speaking to his team in the locker room shortly after the win and the veteran head coach spoke about the need to show maturity by handling business against Texas in Austin this weekend. 16 games into the season the Longhorns have struggled and it's a game that West Virginia should win, but they must of course heed the advice of their head coach once again.