By Cliff Nichols
Times West Virginian
“We’ve just got to make something happen.”
That was coach Bob Huggins’ brief message Tuesday afternoon at the Coliseum before putting his West Virginia University basketball team through a final full practice before tonight’s 7:30 game here against TCU.
Both teams will be trying to halt losing streaks in a game which will be televised by ESPN2. WVU (8-9 overall, 1-3 Big 12) has lost three in a row since a 57-53 overtime win at Texas. TCU (9-9, 0-5) has not won since December, dropping five straight.
Huggins has labeled WVU’s effort in its last loss, 79-52 last Saturday at Purdue, as unacceptable. The previous two setbacks in the current skid were 65-64 to Kansas State at home and 69-67 at Iowa State.
“In all honesty, we’re a shot or a call or bounce away from winning another three or four,” Huggins said. “I think the problem is we don’t make that happen. We just kind of hope it happens.
“You go back and look. It seems like we miss free throws when we’ve shot the ball decent. We’ve shot the ball bad and made free throws. You take the Gonzaga and Purdue games away, and we’ve certainly had our chances.”
Huggins believes the Mountaineers are capable of rebounding from the loss at Purdue.
“All I can tell you is we had I thought (Monday) one of the best practices we’ve had in a while, for whatever that’s worth,” Huggins said.
The Horned Frogs’ last two losses have come at home, the latest by 63-50 last Saturday against Iowa State.
“We have to keep fighting,” TCU first-year coach Trent Johnson said. “We make some improvements, and then we take a step back in certain areas.”
The previous game, TCU fell to Kansas State, 67-54.
“I thought we played probably as about as good as we could play for about the first three or four minutes,” Johnson said. “But like most good teams that are mature, skilled, understand their roles — we had a couple breakdowns defensively, we had a couple breakdowns offensively — and they make you pay.”
TCU hopes to avoid its first 0-6 conference start since 2001-02 in its first-ever game against WVU.
TCU ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 12 in the NCAA in scoring defense (56.4 ppg). It is No. 13 nationally in fewest 3-pointers allowed per game (4.3) and 77th in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (31.0).
Offensively, though, the Horned Frogs are averaging only 54.8 points per game.
“They’re good enough,” Huggins said. “We’re going to have to play well. I’m sure they’ll be like everybody else, try to make us shoot it on the perimeter.”
Kyan Anderson, a 5-11 sophomore guard, is TCU’s top scorer with a 11.4 average. Garlon Green, a 6-7 senior forward, is Horned Frogs’ other double-figure scorer with a 10.9 average.
TCU typically uses much of the shot clock and attempts to keep its opponent from getting into transition.
“They run good sets,” Huggins said. “They look at the options when they come through. They’ve got good continuity to them. They just try to make you guard them for the full shot clock, but it’s not like if they have something before that they’re not going to take it.”
WVU guards Gary Browne (ankle) and Terry Henderson (back) have both practiced and are expected to play, Huggins noted. Henderson has missed the last two games.
Email Cliff Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.