FORT WORTH, Texas —Terry Henderson was so hot, even the shot he missed barely spun out.
Henderson scored 17 points off the bench, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor and 4-of-4 at the foul line, as West Virginia won its third straight game by dousing TCU 63-50.
“Once I felt like they were leaving me too open, I just let ‘em fly.” — WVU guard Terry Henderson
Eron Harris added 14 points and Jabarie Hinds chipped in 12 as WVU’s guards accounted for 47 points on 15-of-27 shooting overall and 7-of-10 from 3-point range.
West Virginia (12-11, 5-5) climbed back to .500 in Big 12 play for the first time since Jan. 9, while the Horned Frogs (10-13, 1-9) couldn’t match the efficiency they showed in Wednesday night’s shocking upset of Kansas.
Henderson attributed his big day to “finding open spaces” in TCU’s defense. “And once I felt like they were leaving me too open, I just let ‘em fly,” he said.
The freshman produced an explosive first half, scoring 15 points by making all five shots from the floor (including 3-of-3 from 3-point range) and going 2-of-2 on free throws. (“We may have gotten shut out in the first half if not for him,” joked WVU coach Bob Huggins.)
But Henderson didn’t re-appear until the 10:22 mark of the second half — something Huggins attributed to a possible oversight. Henderson’s only missed shot of the afternoon, a 3-point try from the top of the key, was halfway down before rimming out. But Kevin Noreen grabbed the rebound and pitched it out to Harris for a wide-open 3 that put West Virgijnia up 51-40 with 8:39 left.
“That broke our back a little bit,” said TCU coach Trent Johnson, who didn’t like his team’s body language during an ensuing 30-second timeout. “There was still a little bit of time left on the clock, and our guys come over to the huddle and they were down.”
The Horned Frogs owned a 34-23 rebounding edge, yet Johnson claimed the Mountaineers were “physically and mentally a lot tougher than we are.” To illustrate, the coach pointed out guard Garlon Green, who followed up a 20-point performance against Kansas by shooting 1-of-12 against West Virginia. Green didn’t score until 13:27 remained in the game and finished with three points.
“He wasn’t aggressive,” Johnson said. “And I’m not just talking about scoring. First play of the game he’s supposed to come down and set a down screen (for Kyan Anderson). The kid for West Virginia (Harris) chucks him — good basketball play — and the kid stands him up. Garlon’s 6-6 and the West Virginia kid’s only 6-4. Come on, I mean, really?”
Said Harris of Green: “He probably outweighs my by 20 or 30 pounds … but we just played hard defense.”
In a foul-laden first half, each team lost key personnel. Green picked up his second foul on a charge with barely three minutes elapsed and spent the rest of the half on the bench.
Meanwhile, WVU’s Aaric Murray entered at the 14:13 mark, collected two fouls in 27 seconds and promptly returned to his seat, and his replacement, Dominique Rutledge, was whistled for three fouls in nine minutes. Deniz Kilicli picked up two fouls in 11 minutes, but was on the court for the final possession of the half, passing out of a double-team to Hinds for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave WVU a 31-28 lead.
“We’ve got a nice confidence level going,” said Hinds, who did not attempt another 3, but instead did some damage on drives. “Our wing guys are knocking down shots and whatever chance I got I tried to take it to the basket.”
WVU forced 12 first-half turnovers but also watched TCU shoot 60 percent. In the second half, with West Virginia retreating into a 2-3 zone and cutting off the driving lanes, the Horned Frogs fell off to 25 percent, including 2-of-16 on 3s.
“(TCU) hung around in the first half and we realized that score was way too close,” Harris said. “So we went into the locker room and we said “Hey, guys, we’ve got to defend.’ We just had to guard.”
“In the second half we just fixed that, and I felt like the zone slowed them down.”