Three points to take away from West Virginia’s 66-56 loss to Florida on Tuesday night:
1. Offensive ineptitude
Though the Gators are sturdy defensively, West Virginia committed a frenzy of unforced errors on its way to 21 turnovers.
Brandon Knapper was riddled by five giveaways (with zero assists) in 18 minutes, showing that the Mountaineers’ point guard dilemma isn’t close to getting cleaned up.
Sagaba Konate (2-of-10 shooting) also turned it over five times, twice on offensive fouls. Beetle Bolden (1-of-10 shooting) subbed out with 10:47 left in the game and never returned.
West Virginia, which came in averaging 86 points per game, couldn’t rely on its 3-point shooting as a bailout. The squad was 7-of-23 from deep, including 0-of-5 by Lamont West and 0-2 by Bolden.
Esa Ahmad had a thunderous dunk but finished with only seven points and missed all five free throws to compound the scoring woes.
The only time the program had at least 20 turnovers, scored 56 or fewer and shot sub-30 percent in a game? That dreadful 84-50 beating at Gonzaga in November 2012.
2. Where’s the leadership?
Even a coach with 850 wins like Bob Huggins needs take-charge players who can stabilize the team during adverse times.
Konate is a sporadic bundle of energy who doesn’t fit the bill, and Bolden has vanished with injuries throughout the season’s first month.
Junior guard Chase Harler’s late 3-point flurry saved West Virginia from a blowout, suggesting he has something other than intangible value on the court.
Lamenting the loss of Jevon Carter won’t fill the void. This team’s postseason hopes demand player-to-player accountability.
3. Shaving the rotation
Jordan McCabe, part of the three-man rotation at point guard, didn’t see action until the final 9:51. The freshman had averaged 12 minutes over the previous three games, but played only 5 minutes Tuesday.
“We’re really spreading the minutes out, and it’s hard to get continuity when you’re playing that many people,” Huggins said before the loss. “Some people’s minutes are going to go up drastically, and I think some people’s minutes are going to go down drastically.”
Afterward, Huggins sounded sour about players being “uncoachable” and prone to pouting. Though such dire talk is vintage post-loss Huggins, you wonder whether chemistry is another of this season’s concerns.
“We have some guys who need to grow up, and if they don’t do it then I can’t have them around,” he said. “I think I can fix it. I’ve fixed it before. And when I can’t fix it, I cut it out.”