Tag: Bob Huggins

West Virginia forward Devin Williams (41) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Feb, 6, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson

No. 14 West Virginia takes care of No. 15 Baylor

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Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.

Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.

They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.

The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.

They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.

West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.

No. 14 West Virginia rebounds, wins at No. 13 Iowa State

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Saturday afternoon No. 14 West Virginia put forth its worst showing of the season, losing 88-71 at Florida in a game that wasn’t all that close, and things seemed to be headed in that direction Tuesday night at No. 13 Iowa State. The Cyclones led by 15 just over ten minutes into the first half, and with point guard Monte Morris having little trouble dealing with the West Virginia press Steve Prohm’s team appeared poised to strengthen its grip on the game.

But the Mountaineers got going, with Devin Williams dominating the boards and Jaysean Paige providing some much-needed scoring off the bench, ultimately winning 81-76 at Hilton Coliseum.

Williams was outstanding in the paint for West Virginia, which once again played without the suspended Jonathan Holton, racking up 17 points and 18 rebounds (six offensive). As a team the Mountaineers rebounded 48.6 percent of their available missed shots, converting 17 offensive rebounds into 18 second-chance points. Those extra opportunities helped West Virginia make up for its lack of perimeter shooting against a team that shot 11-for-22 from three.

Offensive rebounding is a key area for Bob Huggins’ team given their shooting issues, and against an Iowa State team that lacks depth especially in the post, they were able to take advantage.

The other key for West Virginia was the play of Paige, who has emerged as one of the top sixth men in the country. After averaging 5.6 points in just over 13 minutes of action per game as a freshman, Paige has emerged as the Mountaineers’ leading scorer (13.6 ppg before Tuesday’s game). Against Iowa State he gave the Mountaineers a much-needed spark offensively, scoring a game-high 23 points with ten coming in the first half to help trim that 15-point deficit to four by halftime.

With the graduation of Juwan Staten, West Virginia was in need of someone stepping forward into the role of shot maker. They’re balanced offensively when it comes to the averages, with four players averaging double figures and Holton not far off at 9.7 ppg. But as the season’s progressed it’s become clear that Paige is the players best equipped to take (and make) key shots at key points in games.

Picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll, West Virginia hits the halfway point tied with No. 1 Oklahoma atop the conference standings. Just a couple days after getting out-toughed at Florida, West Virginia offered up a much better response to early adversity at Iowa State, and they remain atop the Big 12 as a result.

West Virginia forward Holton suspended for rules violation

West Virginia forward Jonathan Holton (1) drives the basket while being defended by Kansas State forward Wesley Iwundu (25) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan, 26, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
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No. 9 West Virginia will be without an important starter Saturday afternoon when they visit Florida, as it was announced Thursday night that senior forward Jonathan Holton has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

Holton’s averaging 9.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for Bob Huggins’ team, and his role at the head of the Mountaineers’ full court pressure is an important one. At 6-foot-8, Holton has the length and athleticism to make things difficult on opposing teams.

West Virginia doesn’t lack for depth in the front court, with players such as Elijah Macon and Esa Ahmad in line to see more playing time as a result of this disciplinary action. With Saturday’s game being followed by Big 12 contests against Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas, a prolonged absence for Holton could make things difficult on the Mountaineers as they look to make a run at the Big 12 title.