Ever since Bob Huggins transformed his program from West Virginia to “Press Virginia,” the Mountaineers have been the best nationally in turning opponents over.
The Mountaineers took it to another level Monday night.
Manhattan committed 40, yes 40, turnovers in its 108-61 loss to West Virginia in Morgantown as the Mountaineers set a school-record for forced turnovers.
The 25th-ranked Mountaineers (5-1) no doubt were motivated Monday coming off their first loss of the season against Temple last week, but this is some serious savagery.
The Jaspers gave the ball back to West Virginia on an astounding 44 percent of their possessions for the game. They came into the contest rather turnover prone – ranking 343rd nationally in giveaways – so this was pretty much a nightmare scenario for them. An angry West Virginia against a team already loose with the ball was bound to produce some turnovers. It just turned out it was 40 of them.
Esa Ahmad had five steals, plus 19 points, for West Virginia and five other Mountaineers had two.
The Mountaineers ranked first in turning opponents over in the first season of their reincarnation as a pressing squad in 2014-15 and were second last year. The trend has continued this season – as evidenced Monday, obviously – and it’s almost as if West Virginia may even be perfecting this style of play with two years of playing it now under their belt.
The scheme will see an interesting test this weekend when the Mountaineers host No. 6 Virginia, who play as methodically and precisely as any team in the country, on Saturday.