MORGANTOWN — Perhaps the Olympics kept WVU fans at home Monday evening.
Tickets for the No. 20 Mountaineers’ home game with TCU at the Coliseum were plentiful. On secondary ticket markets like Stubhub, they were going for the minimum $6.
Yet on this night, West Virginia put on at least a medal-winning performance, defeating the visiting Horned Frogs 82-66, and in doing so avoided a second straight loss before what was announced as a crowd of 11,773 and an ESPN2 audience.
Mountaineer forward Teddy Allen led a balanced offensive attack with 16 points, while James “Beetle” Bolden added 14, Dax Miles had 13 and Wes Harris had 11.
“We were taking what the defense gave us,” Bolden said. “We were reading the defense. We saw they watched film a little bit on us from the last game and were cheating on us. So a lot of back-door plays were open.”
The victory moved West Virginia to 19-7 overall.
“We just came out with energy,” Allen said. “I think that showed up.”
While the energy showed up, however, big man Sagaba Konate sat down for most of the first half. Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins said afterward he was displeased about Konate’s defensive effort that led to a first-half TCU dunk.
Huggins did, however, start Konate in the second half and got a very nice finish from the 6-foot-8 sophomore from Mali. He had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
There were, though, two bigger stories. One was the Mountaineers held onto their lead when TCU rallied in the second half and actually extended it to 18 with 30 seconds remaining.
“Our energy level was high,” Miles said. “And toward the end we kept our foot on the gas. Our defense was good tonight.”
The second storyline was the first-half play of Maciej Bender.
Although Bolden was the leading scorer for West Virginia in the first half with 10 points, the headline was the play of Bender, who played the majority of minutes for Konate.
Before WVU’s Allen scored to pare TCU’s early lead back to 13-9, the Mountaineers had hit but 3 of 13 field goal attempts.
Yet the shooting of Bolden — who was criticized by Huggins for his late 3-point attempt against Oklahoma State — and Bender’s play sparked the hosts.
Bender, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Warsaw, Poland, was stealing Horned Frog passes. He blocked TCU’s Kouat Noi. He was vacuuming rebounds. At the break, his stat line had 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block and 3 steals in 11 minutes. WVU hit 13 of its last 19 shots and had a key 13-3 run to take a 38-27 halftime lead.
The Mountaineers outrebounded the Horned Frogs 22-12 in the span – even without Konate, who played 3 minutes. West Virginia’s bench outscored that of TCU 23-4.
“Magic flying around, grabbing rebounds, dunking on people, that’s big for us,” Allen said. “If Magic can do that for us, we’re a good team. We’re a great team.”
“Magic played his butt off,” Miles said. “Teddy played his butt off. They came to play tonight.”
Indeed, West Virginia’s bench outscored that of TCU 38-8 in the game. The Mountaineers finished the game shooting 50.8 percent. Also, they outrebounded the Horned Frogs by 38-29.
“We weren’t real happy with our performance,” said TCU coach Jamie Dixon. “Congratulation to West Virginia. In the last game, we beat them by a pretty good margin and outrebounded them by nine. I told our team it was something they’d be addressing and they turned the tables on us, outrebounding us by nine. That’s probably the difference.”
WVU lost the season’s first game between the teams 82-73 in Fort Worth.
The Mountaineers entered the game in third place in the Big 12 at 7-5, behind Texas Tech (9-3) and Kansas (8-4). They are now a half game behind the Jayhawks. TCU entered in a sixth-place logjam with Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas, but are now in next to last place with Texas at 5-8.
The Mountaineers will now have off until a two-game road swing that begins Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas. WVU will face KU at 6 p.m. that day on ESPN before heading to Waco, Texas, for a 7 p.m. Tuesday matchup with Baylor.
West Virginia now leads the series with TCU 12-1.