No. 7 West Virginia pulls away to beat TCU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — No. 7 West Virginia got lazy on defense and kept letting TCU come back.
The up-and-down effort changed for the Mountaineers when the Horned Frogs threatened to take the lead midway through the second half.
Jevon Carter scored nine of his 13 points during a decisive 16-4 run that sent West Virginia to an 82-70 victory on Saturday.
“I think we picked our energy level up,” said West Virginia’s Daxter Miles, who tied a season high with 22 points. “The Big 12 is a tough league. Every night is going to be a good game. (You’ve) just got to do what you can do to try to get the best outcome.”
West Virginia (13-2, 2-1) bounced back from an overtime loss at Texas Tech and improved to 10-0 against TCU since the schools joined the Big 12 in 2012.
“We came out with no enthusiasm (at Texas Tech),” Miles said. “We’ve got to play with energy. And when we play with a lot of energy, good things happen for us.”
Miles had his third 20-point effort of the season. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said he received a text message from Miles on Friday night from the hotel where he put the players to allow them to rest up for the game.
“He’s texting me saying `I got to go get shots, I got to go get shots, I got to go get shots’ when usually he’s saying `Why is practice so long?'” Huggins said.
Still, the coach said Miles’ has shown an improved work ethic, “so I thought he’d have a great game.”
TCU didn’t have much trouble moving up court against West Virginia’s relentless pressure defense, but the Horned Frogs were sloppy and hesitant with their ball movement and tied a season high with 18 turnovers.
“We came here expecting to win,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “You have to finish against (the press). We need to do a better job of it.”
The Mountaineers scored 28 points off turnovers and never trailed. But TCU overcame a 13-point deficit and tied it at 57-57 on a three-point play by Desmond Bane midway through the second half.
TCU then went the next 5 minutes without a basket. Carter, who missed six of his first eight shots, hit three 3-pointers in the decisive run. Miles’ 3-pointer with 2:08 left capped the run to put the Mountaineers ahead 80-65.
Esa Ahmad added 16 points for West Virginia, while freshman Sagaba Konate scored 13.
Alex Robinson led TCU (12-3, 1-2) with 17 points and Vladimir Brodziansky added 14.
TCU: The Horned Frogs had just two Big 12 wins all last season and already have a win over Oklahoma and a close loss to Kansas . … With a new starting lineup, TCU had tied its third-best start in program history but fell flat down the stretch against the Mountaineers in only its third road game of the season.
“I don’t know if it’s the environment or not,” Dixon said. “This is the Big 12. You’re going to play tough people on the road. It’s what you signed up for. This can be good for us. We’ll see how we respond going forward.”
WEST VIRGINIA: Free throw shooting is a problem for the Mountaineers, who are making 65 percent for the season. They made 9 of 14 against TCU after going 13 of 24 against Texas Tech.
Dixon coached 13 seasons at Pittsburgh before taking over at his alma mater this season. He is 12-8 all-time against the Mountaineers, including 7-5 against Huggins.
Dixon traded friendly slaps on the shoulder with Huggins before the game. The WVU student section shouted a PG-rated reference to Dixon’s former school and the Mountaineers’ ex-Big East rival.
“The fans are great, passionate,” Dixon said. “That’s what you love about it.”
TCU plays at Texas on Wednesday.
West Virginia hosts No. 2 Baylor on Tuesday.