MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It was Family Day inside the Coliseum, which meant cheap hot dogs and popcorn and a larger crowd than one would expect to see West Virginia face the last-place team in the Big 12.
The Mountaineers (16-13, 7-8) entered as 14-point favorites, but as players and coaches remind us all the time, TCU (9-19, 0-16) has scholarship players too—even if it’s only like seven of them. Below is a recap of the in-game updates from throughout the afternoon.
WEST VIRGINIA 81, TCU 59 (final)
Walk-ons Richard Romeo and Tyrone Hughes get into the boxscore late with baskets. (Romeo had just one previously, against Loyola-Maryland back on Dec. 2.) …WVU outscores the Frogs 42-23 in the second half. Harris leads the way with 18, while Staten adds 17. Adrian scored 14, just two off his career-high and Devin Williams closes with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
WEST VIRGINIA 76, TCU 54 (3:27 second half)
The Mountaineers sank 7-of-9 shots during one stretch to euthanize TCU. Hard to believe that West Virginia could play so poorly for chunks of this game and yet win by a ton. TCU really has fallen off since these teams met in early January. The Frogs looked like a beaten-down team.
WEST VIRGINIA 63, TCU 42 (8:42 second half)
Is this the second-half slippage that seems inevitable for TCU? (That is, after all, how you get to 0-15 in league play.) West Virginia’s on a 13-0 run, which included Nathan Adrian converting an old-timey three-point play by putting back Harris’ missed jumper. Devin Williams has six points in this stretch as well, giving him 10 for the game. With eight boards, he could be tracking his first double-double since Jan.11. TCU is 2-of-13 shooting this half.
WEST VIRGINIA 48, TCU 42 (11:55 second half)
TCU’s Shepherd had a good-and-bad sequence there: Stuffing Staten with a two-handed block in transition, but later missing a dunk (and then being assessed a technical for what appeared to be inadvertent hanging on the rim). … In other news of hoops ugliness, WVU has missed 6-of-7 and the Frogs have missed 5-of-6. Don’t think we’ll see 100 today.
WEST VIRGINIA 44, TCU 40 (15:28 second half)
The Mountaineers are 7-of-16 from 3-point range—not bad, at 44 percent—but they can’t fall into the trap of hoisting them against TCU’s zone. Of course, WVU’s preference is to speed up the game that TCU is aiming to slow down. The Frogs have committed 11 turnovers but those haven’t fueled West Virginia’s transition game.
WEST VIRGINIA 39, TCU 36 (halftime)
So, it’s halftime at a nailbiter of a game West Virginia absolutely must win to maintain hopes of an NCAA at-large (and perhaps, because of that .500 rule, even an NIT bid could be in peril). Yet, we rewind to Huggins’ practice interview on Friday, and he was still angling for some points from the selection committee. “I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility—let’s say we finish 9-9—that we can’t get an NCAA tournament bid. If that happens, we’re probably going to finish ahead of a couple (teams) that are pretty good, in the best league in the country.”
WEST VIRGINIA 39, TCU 36 (halftime)
The Frogs made 12 field goals to WVU’s 11, but West Virginia made six 3s to TCU’s one. (That’s math the Mountaineers can appreciate.) … Juwan Staten has 10 points, albeit on 2-of-7 shooting. His 6-of-6 work at the foul line has come in handy. Harris has 11 and Connor delivered that now-legendary nine-point outburst.
TCU 33, WEST VIRGINIA 32 (3:26 first half)
The Mountaineers have hit just one of their last 10 shots, dropping their percentage to 34 percent. TCU’s 2-3 zone will dare WVU to score from outside. Meanwhile, 6-foot-10 freshman Karviar Shepherd has 10 points for TCU (two more than his per-game average), as does Anderson.
WEST VIRGINIA 28, TCU 21 (7:29 first half)
Eron Harris, clearly inspired by his new idol Chase Connor, has 11 points in pushing West Virginia out front. TCU guard Kyan Anderson has two fouls, which makes the offensively challenged Frogs all the more handicapped. However, TCU is shooting 50 percent (9-of-18), and attempting to become the fourth straight opponent to do so against WVU.
WEST VIRGINIA 16, TCU 15 (12:07 first half)
What in the wide, wide world of sports got into Chase Connor? The freshman walk-on who hadn’t scored a point all season just drained three 3-pointers in a span of 2:18. And it came at a point when the Mountaineers were sort of sleepily trudging through. (For the few who don’t know Connor’s background: He led the state of West Virginia in scoring at 27 points per game as a senior at Shady Spring High.)
Yes, Trent Johnson is dealing with a bare-bones roster because of injuries and suspension. But as Bob Huggins reminds us: “They’ve got one less guy than we do. If you took our team and their team together, we’d have 15 (players), which is what we used to have for one team. I don’t think that’s even a factor because our numbers are just about the same.”