The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 14, 2014

WVU saves worst for last in 66-49 loss to Longhorns

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University saved the worst for last.

In a game the Mountaineers had to win to have any chance to advance to the NCAA Championships, the Mountaineers played so badly that their membership in the NCAA is liable to be questioned, losing to Texas, 66-49, to be eliminated from the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Texas goes on to face Baylor in the semifinals while the Mountaineers will limp into the NIT, almost certainly, the limp belonging to WVU all-conference point guard Juwan Staten, who left this game with an injured ankle and just four points.

It was difficult to imagine this was the same team that scored 92 points on Kansas in its final regular-season game, Eron Harris scoring 28 points, Staten 24 and Devin Williams 22.

That’s 74 points. Against Texas they scored 9 points, one fewer than Brandon Watkins, who was their high scorer.

Certainly, Texas expected more.

“You go into a game expecting it to be a close game,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes. “You get a lead you know your opponent has a chance because of the 3-point league. But you never expect it to be easy.”

Staten’s four points came from 1-for-11 shooting. Harris scored three, making his final shot of the night before fouling out, and Williams had two points.

The three combined for 3-for-22 shooting from the floor.

You could not do much worse shooting blindfolded.

You can rest assured, earlier on Thursday, someone connected with the West Virginia team joked around a bit about poor, pitiful Rutgers, which had just lost to Louisville, 92-31.

Someone probably pointed out, laughing, that had not one Louisville starter scored in the game they still would have beaten Rutgers, 32-31.

Little did they know …

At halftime, WVU did not have half Louisville’s total. Not even close to it.

In truth, the Mountaineers did not play their worst half of the season.

They played their worst half of the decade … and maybe just their worst half ever as Texas, playing a zone that absolutely stymied All-Big 12 guard Juwan Staten and his partner, jumped to a 12-0 lead and rode it to a 35-14 halftime lead.

How bad was it?

If Shakespeare were a sports writer, he would have answered that by saying “let me count the ways.”

At halftime WVU’s leading scorer was?

Want to guess?

It was Kevin Noreen with 5 points.

Second-leading scorer?

Brandon Watkins with 4 points.

Juwan Staten? Completely stymied with 3 points on 1-of-9 shooting.

Eron Harris, his cohort at guard. He ended a scoreless half sitting on the bench with his warmup on.

At halftime, West Virginia was shooting 18.2 percent, hitting 6 baskets in 33 shots. Texas was shooting 50 percent.

And as for 3-point shots, which West Virginia lives by.

Well, they die by them, too, and were 0-for-8 in the half, only one of them even coming close to going in.

Coach Bob Huggins was so frustrated that at one full timeout, he didn’t even let his players sit down.

Theories why?

Perhaps he felt it was difficult to get tired the way they were playing.

As for Texas, they were playing a nearly perfect defensive game and had two players – Jonathan Holmes and Javan Feliz – who were outscoring WVU, 21-14. Holmes was leading the way with 11, Feliz with 10.

Normally, you would hold out hope for a second-half comeback. WVU had not won a game all year that it trailed by 10 or more points … but this is tournament time and strange things happen.

And WVU came out as if some good things were about to happen, Remi Dibo hitting a jumper and then forcing a shot clock violation.

So much for the good things that happened in the second half.

You couldn’t have done worse if you tried.

As the deficit mounted, the following things transpired:

Staten twisted his ankle and went directly to the locker room, not even stopping at the bench, screaming from down the tunnel in pain, then wound up watching the rest of the game with his shoe off and ice on an elevated ankle.

Brandon Watkins went to dunk only to have Connor Lammert fly out of nowhere to not only block it, but jam it between the rim and backboard for a jump ball, the arrow going Texas’ way.

Then there was a missed one-and-one by Texas rebounded by Gary Browne, the only one to even go for the ball … and a lane violation was called.

Over and over things like that happened.

Take Eron Harris.

He finally got on the board, hitting a 3-point shot with 5:30 to play.

Five seconds later he fouled out of the game.

Not that it mattered for it had been over for about 30 minutes by then, lacking only the final buzzer.

There was one salvation. At 2:11, Watkins scored up close to give WVU 41 points, one more point than the football team had scored against the Longhorns this year.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: MLB All-Star game biggest celebration of top athletes

    You will pardon me if I find something else to do when the Pro Bowl rolls around, or if I try to find a “Three Stooges” marathon when it’s time for the NHL All-Star game. As for the NBA All-Star game, I’d rather watch a replay of a four-year-old Uruguay-Ethiopia World Cup soccer match in which I knew the outcome.

    July 14, 2014

  • Howes learns to ‘never settle’ as WVU administrator

    You probably don’t know much about Terri Howes, even though she is a rather high-ranking executive in the West Virginia University athletic department.
    “I like it that way,” she said, sitting in a large office at the Coliseum, decorated with pictures and memorabilia, a jar of candy sitting by the door for visitors to dip into.

    July 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads