When WVU’s players trickled out of their Schollmaier Arena locker room late Monday night in Fort Worth, Texas, they had little to say of their 82-73 Big 12 loss to TCU.
And really, there wasn’t much to say.
Once again, a court was stormed on the Mountaineers. And once again it was for the same reason. WVU coaches know what it is. WVU fans know what it is. And certainly those players knew what it was.
“In the end it’s just hard to win if you don’t make shots,” said Mountaineer senior Jevon Carter, who could hit but 6 of his 18 shots. “It was just a rough night shooting the ball.”
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” said Carter’s backcourt mate Daxter Miles Jr., who converted but 5 of his 15 attempts. “We have to get back in the gym as a unit and turn it back on. I win with my team and lose with my team. Just a bad night.”
Recently, though, West Virginia’s bad shooting has been the rule rather than the exception.
Although the Mountaineers are shooting 42.5 percent for the season and 33.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, the numbers have been unattractive of late.
Sure, West Virginia shot a blistering 65.5 percent in the second half of its 35-point home blowout of Texas.
Yet one has to go all the way back to the Jan. 1 away game against Kansas State to find a contest in which the Mountaineers converted at least 40 percent in both halves.
In that K-State game, WVU was very sharp, hitting 51.7 percent in the first half and 55.6 in the second, despite only winning 77-69.
But check the team’s box scores. In their impressive win over Oklahoma, the Mountaineers shot 39.5 percent in the first half.
In their ugly win over Baylor, it was 30.3 in the first half and 32.1 in the second. In the loss at Texas Tech, there was the second-half 33.3 percent downturn. Against Kansas, it was 35.7 in the second half.
Even in the blowout of Texas, West Virginia stunningly only shot 30.8 percent in the first half.
“In the first half we stopped [TCU] seven consecutive times and didn’t score,” said WVU’s Bob Huggins. “We’re not scoring the ball. We’re not making shots. It wasn’t like we didn’t have shots. We just didn’t make shots. We’re just not making them.”
The coach said some of it is inexplicable.
“We have guys that are 2 for their last 15 when shooting 3s and are still taking them,” Huggins said. “We have guys 4 for 18 that are still shooting them.”
The Mountaineer coach was asked whether the woes are because of bad offense or good defense.
“When you’re wide open, I don’t think it’s defense,” he said. “We had wide-open looks. But as you move up in competition — just like as you move through the NCAA tournament — there are less and less open looks. People are better defensively.”
Nationally, however, teams like St. Mary’s, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Duke, Gonzaga, Villanova and UNLV all were hitting 51 percent of their shots or better this season.
As for TCU, the Horned Frogs, who began Monday’s game tied for last place in the Big 12, shot 42.8 percent against West Virginia.
“I told our guys we needed to win an ugly game,” said TCU coach Jamie Dixon. “We hadn’t won an ugly game all year. Rebounding. Defending. Not making shots. That’s what we had to do to hold [WVU] to 33 percent shooting.”
Miles didn’t say as much.
“Me and my team just have to get ready to play, that’s all,” he said.
WVU (16-4 overall, 5-3 Big 12) will next host Kentucky at 7 p.m. Saturday.