It wasn’t just the fact that visiting Texas beat the West Virginia University men’s basketball team on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.
It was how the Longhorns went about pulling away from and eventually burying the Mountaineers in the second half that drew West Virginia coach Bob Huggins’ ire after the game.
Texas turned a six-point halftime lead into an eventual 22-point win to send WVU to 2-9 in Big 12 Conference play. Along the way, the Longhorns scored easy basket after easy basket with seven mostly uncontested dunks — all in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Defensive lapses? Sure. But a lot of that starts with poor offensive execution on the other end of the floor and an uncharacteristically bad rebounding night from the Mountaineers. When the shots weren’t falling and WVU wasn’t winning the battles on the boards, Texas turned those opportunities into relatively easy points on its end of the floor as the Coliseum crowd began to head for the exits knowing the all too familiar result that awaited West Virginia.
“We didn’t rebound it,” Huggins said. “We’ve had bad games before, shooting the ball, but we’ve always rebounded. We didn’t rebound it at either end. I probably shouldn’t say this, but the reality is [Texas] is more talented than we are. So we have to do things right, and we didn’t do things things right.”
When you aren’t as talented as other people and you don’t do things right, it’s not going to be a good outcome for you. We’ve always been fine, because we have done things right.”
Some of the problems West Virginia has battled this season can be attributed to injuries and a lack of experience behind the injured players. Shot-blocking junior forward Sagaba Konate has been sidelined with a knee injury and has not played since a December win against rival Pittsburgh in Morgantown. Junior guard Beetle Bolden has been a walking calamity this season with a slew of injuries keeping him out for extended time multiple times so far this season. Bolden aggravated a high ankle sprain in a loss at No. 1 Tennessee two weeks ago and has not played since.
“What we had planned on doing, we couldn’t do because we didn’t have Sags,” Huggins said about how injuries changed what the Mountaineers can do on the floor. “You can’t open the floor up the way we opened the floor up when we had Sags. Before that [last season], we had Elijah [Macon], so we had people back there. Then, Sags is gone. If you go back to the Pitt game, that’s the way we played before. Then, Sags hasn’t played since.” He didn’t play before that, really. That was like his one game.”
Then, we have three freshman guards and a junior college guy [Jermaine Haley] and [junior guard] Chase [Harler]. Beetle was out. Beetle’s had three high ankle sprains, a subluxed shoulder, torn ligaments in his shooting hand. We really haven’t had Beetle. So, you’re talking about a bunch of guys who have never been here before. So, you kind of count on the front line who has been here. Then, when you lose Sags, then [freshman forward] Derek [Culver] comes in kind of midstream, and now you have [senior forward] Esa [Ahmad], [junior forward] Wes [Harris] and [junior forward] Lamont [West]. I think it’s frustrating for them sometimes because they don’t get the ball where they used to get the ball. [They] don’t get the ball when they’re open sometimes. It’s a lack of understanding.”
The result has been losses that are piling up and frustration building up for the veteran West Virginia coach.
“You have guys that follow the game plan and guys who don’t follow the game plan,” Huggins said. “You have guys who really compete and guys who just don’t compete. You have guys who make excuses and guys who try harder. For whatever reason, it seems like we live in a society full of excuses and I’m not trying to give any excuses. [This is] my fault, I’ll do my best to fix it.”