Fans of the men’s basketball team have to be frustrated by the Mountaineers lack of physicality in the paint. WVU has really lacked the ability to score down low the past few games and that cost them dearly in the second half of yesterday’s game.
West Virginia built a comfortable 43-31 lead early in the second half behind great outside shooting by Terry Henderson and Jabari Hinds. With a double-digit lead and shooters on hot streaks, it looked like the Mountaineers would be able to cruise to an easy win. It didn’t seem to matter much that they could not get the ball in the paint on set plays when they could make the longer jump shots.
Then the bottom fell out of the offense. Henderson went cold and the Mountaineers offense ground to a halt, letting the consistent Sooners offense chip away at their deficit. Before long, WVU was in a tight game they were not expecting.
The offense was sloppy and had no viable options for getting the ball down low. Both Murray and Kilicli struggled to find space around the rim, an area where these two usually excel. The Oklahoma forwards dominated the space, forcing them to play farther from the basket than they would like.
Even Kevin Noreen tried to find room underneath, but all he could do is flail around.
Oklahoma established their presence around the rim, pounding 30 points in around the basket. WVU’s total in the paint was 10 points and the vast majority of those points came from Juwan Staten driving the rim as the shot clock expired.
Coach Huggins was very blunt about just how badly the Mountaineers got beat down low:
“They out-scored us 30-10 in the paint and of the 10, probably eight of those came from (guard) Juwan Staten,” said Huggins. “They get 15 second-chance points and we get eight and I don’t know how we got eight, to be honest. If we can’t rebound it maybe we have to play smaller and try and spread people a little bit,” said Huggins.
It is clear that Huggins is not happy with his forward play. Murray, Kilicli, Rutledge, and Noreen have got to find a way to force opponents to take longer shots and dominate the glass. Count on Huggins and the coaching staff to really work the forwards in practice this week.
If you want a more detailed recap of last night’s game and more quotes from coach Huggins, visit wvusports.com.