FORT WORTH, Texas — West Virginia became a one-man offense during the final five minutes of Saturday’s game at TCU, which suited Juwan Staten just fine.
The junior point guard, contained for most of the afternoon, scored the Mountaineers’ final nine points in a 74-69 victory that temporarily exorcised some road demons and gave West Virginia a positive start to the Big 12 schedule.
As is so often the case, Staten’s 15 points were only part of his value. He also was a force on the glass with seven rebounds, and in 38 minutes of action, his defense kept Kyan Anderson to 12 points—half of what TCU’s top scorer had averaged the past three games.
Eron Harris topped West Virginia (9-5, 1-0) with 22 points, playing 33 minutes off the bench after suffering flu symptoms all week. By game’s end, however, Harris seemed gassed and Terry Henderson wasn’t inspiring much confidence on a 3-for-10 shooting day. Neither was coach Bob Huggins keen on the plan of dumping the ball inside, where his low-post players weren’t producing.
That left it up to Staten, who was only 1-of-6 shooting himself as the Mountaineers clung to a 65-62 lead after TCU’s Michael Williams made a layup with 4:59 to play.
“We didn’t really have a better option,” Huggins said. “Eron got a little bit tired—he didn’t really shoot the ball well—and Terry was having a bad day. (Staten) was option 1 and probably 1A.”
That option proved reliable as twice Staten drew fouls driving to the rim, each time making 1-of-2 free throws. After a Brandon Parrish 3-pointer pulled TCU to within 67-65, Staten answered with a 17-foot jumper with 2:41 left. After Amric Fields’ layup drew TCU close again, Staten again penetrated for a layup—and a 71-67 edge at the 1:47 mark.
“When I looked at Coach, he gave me a head nod and told me to keep the ball in my hands,” Staten said. “After that I knew I had to make plays.”
TCU (9-4, 0-1) unraveled on its next possession, with Christian Gore’s off-balanced runner glancing off the side of the backboard. After a timeout, Parrish threw a crosscourt pass that skipped out of bounds for the Frogs’ 14th turnover.
Forced to foul, TCU grabbed Staten, who again made 1-of-2 with 33 seconds left. After the Frogs frantically missed three shots in the ensuing scurry, Staten chased down a long rebound that led to a breakaway layup.
PASSING THEIR BOARDS
Huggins has repeatedly harped on his team’s rebounding deficiencies, but WVU’s 38-30 edge on Saturday was crucial. That included a 17-8 margin on the offensive glass, which—in a fit of perfect symmetry—fueled a 17-8 lead in second-chance points.
“We have been horrible on the glass and we’ve spent a great deal of time trying to get better rebounding the ball, particularly at the offensive end,” Huggins said.
The view from the opposite bench was disappointing for Frogs coach Trent Johnson, whose team dropped to 297th in Division I rebounding percentage.
“Rebounding is just one of those things that people want to talk about, but really it’s just quickness and effort toward the ball,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t help that we are a little limited because of injuries. But it’s one of those things we just have to keep working on at practice each week.
“The game was probably decided on the glass. Every time you give a team of that caliber 17 offensive rebounds, that’s going to hurt you.”
TCU GETS HOT, GOES FOR NAUGHT
On fire in the first half, TCU made its first seven 3-pointers and wound up matching its season high with nine. After entering the game shooting 33 percent from long range, the Frogs made 47 percent Saturday.
Freshman small forward Brandon Parrish scored a career-best 18 points, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. The oft-injured Fields was even better, piling up 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting in his second game back from a broken hand.
“They’re greatly improved,” Huggins said. “Fields gives them such a different dimension with his abilit to step out and make shots … and he facilitates other players. He’s a really good player.”
Karviar Shepherd, the 6-foot-10 freshman who Rivals ranked as the No. 65 prospect nationally, finished with two points, four rebounds and two blocks.
ATOP THE LEAGUE … FOR NOW
For one day at least, West Virginia was tied for the league lead. The only surprise from around the Big 12 was No. 6 Oklahoma State losing at Kansas State 74-71.
Texas Tech (8-6, 0-1), whom the Mountaineers face Monday night in Lubbock, lost its home opener to Iowa State 73-62.