Mountaineers Overcome Cold Sooting to Earn Win No.23 Against TCU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia shot just 37 from the field, but gritted out a 61-60 victory over TCU on Saturday afternoon.

The start of Saturday afternoon's contest between No.12 West Virginia (23-6, 11-5 Big 12) and TCU (17-12, 6-10 Big 12) was vintage Press Virginia in that the Mountaineers made the game ugly from the opening tip. TCU, who was obviously pressing a little too much entering the game, couldn't buy a bucket to start and began the game shooting an ice cold 2-14 (or 14 percent) from the field.

The Mountaineers took advantage of the slow Horned Frogs start and jumped out to a 16-7 lead, but TCU point guard Jaylen Fisher finally got it going and pulled the Horned Frogs out of their initial shooting slump. The freshman hit three of four three-point attempts in the half and brought the Horned Frogs back within striking distance of the Mountaineers.

Shortly after TCU went on an 11-3 run to cut the Mountaineers lead to 21-20, the script completely flipped and West Virginia went cold on the offensive end. TCU took its first lead on a three-pointer in the final seconds of the first half and the Mountaineers finished on a scoring drought that spanned the final 3:34 of the half; West Virginia went 0-6 during the stretch.  It seemed as if the only Mountaineer who could generate any offense was Jevon Carter, who scored 10 in the first half but was unable to match the production of Jaylen Fisher, who scored 13 in the game's opening 20 minutes. 

While the first half saw both teams go through bouts of cold shooting, the second half saw each team heat up thanks to the contributions of post players. Both teams battled back and forth as TCU's Vladimir Brodziansky blocked and altered a number of shots and Elijah Macon and Nathan Adrian made buckets for the Mountaineers. Although both teams played somewhat better on the offensive end, neither was able to take control and there were a number of lead changes throughout the final several minutes.

With roughly five minutes to go the Mountaineers switched to a 1-3-1 zone that appeared to confuse TCU and on the offensive end of the court Jevon Carter hit a big three-pointer that put West Virginia up 56-54. The 1-3-1 gave the Mountaineers a lift and helped West Virginia push its lead out to 60-55. After the contest Bob Huggins implied to IMG's Tony Caridi that it very well could have been the turning point in the game.

"What the 1-3-1 does is stops the penetration to the rim," explained Huggins. "I was thinking back to playing (TCU head coach) Jamie (Dixon) at Pitt. They were number two in the country and we played a 1-3-1 out to see how they would handle it and we ended up using it the whole game. I just thought if it came down to it I knew how we would attack it and I thought we could stop their penetration with it."

The Mountaineers did stop TCU from penetrating but West Virginia failed to score a field goal in the final 2:55 on regulation. With nine seconds remaining, Horned Frog guard Alex Robinson drew a foul with TCU down 60-59. Robinson made one of two free throws that tied the game up, but on the ensuing possession Daxter Miles Jr. drove to the bucket and was fouled by Jaylen Fisher with five seconds remaining. The junior guard made his first free throw and that proved to be enough as the Horned Frogs missed a last second three-pointer. As a result, West Virginia took home a hard fought 61-60 victory over the Horned Frogs.

Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers with 15 points and Nathan Adrian put forth another gritty performance with 13 points and eight boards. At the end of the day, it certainly wasn't pretty as West Virginia shot just 37 percent from the field on 24-65 shooting, but nonetheless the Mountaineers persisted.

It felt like a classic "Press Virginia" win as the Mountaineers out-shot their counterparts 65-46 in the game. Huggins later explained that that's simply the goal. 

"That's the philosophy - get more shots than they get," said Huggins. "That's been the philosophy for a long time. There's different ways to do it but in the end we just want to slow them down."

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