High School Football

West Virginia on-guard during second-half comeback at TCU

West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip reacts during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth.


FORT WORTH, Texas — Tarik Philip sank a 3 from the right wing and flexed at the TCU fans jeering him courtside. When Daxter Miles drilled a follow-up 3 moments later and Jaysean Paige buried one from the corner, the guards for No. 17 West Virginia had nixed Monday night’s upset alert.

With Paige scoring 20, Phillip adding 18 and Miles pitching in 14, the Mountaineers overcame a seven-point second-half deficit and massive foul trouble to stave off the Frogs 95-87.

“It’s always fun when you’re winning,” said Phillip, who chirped with the home crowd throughout the second half. After one loose ball caromed out of bounds, a TCU fan held the ball away from Phillip until the guard finally snatched it back.

“Heckling fans,” he said. “Regular Big 12 stuff.”

Beating TCU has become regular stuff for West Virginia (13-1, 2-0), which won a third road game in six days because its guards scored 48 of the team’s 50 points after halftime. Jevon Carter also was a factor, scoring eight of his 13 points after the break—the backcourt’s production becoming a necessity when Devin Williams and Elijah Macon fouled out and three other forwards picked up their fourth fouls with 10 minutes remaining.

Jonathan Holton finished with 15 points—including the only basket by a West Virginia big man in the second half—and Williams scored 13, spending most of the final 19:11 on the bench as he rooted on the guards.

West Virginia’s 9-of-17 shooting from 3-point range took up the slack.

Paige and Phillip were both 2-of-2 from deep and combined to shoot 11-of-16 overall.

“Tarik is so competitive. He as much as anybody willed us to win,” said coach Bob Huggins. “Then Jaysean comes in and gets 20 in 15 minutes. We’re pretty good when he stays in the game.”

Reserve guard Chauncey Collins poured in 20 points to fuel TCU (8-6, 0-2), which made 35-of-40 at the foul line and finished plus-four in turnovers, yet fell to 0-7 all-time against West Virginia.

TCU struggling to breakthrough: Center Karviar Shepherd finished with 18, more than double his season average, and Malique Trent scored 15 as the Frogs slipped to 2-28 against ranked teams under coach Trent Johnson.

“I’m tired and they should be tired of playing good teams and getting close,” Johnson said. “This moral victory stuff is long gone.”

The Mountaineers trailed 60-53 before recovering with a 13-2 run, and after TCU pulled ahead 75-74, West Virginia’s 3-point barrage launched a decisive 14-2 run.

“It would’ve been a loss without those guys,” Williams said of WVU’s small-ball approach. “We just made it work. I don’t know how TCU is going to pan out this year but you can’t sleep on people like that.”

Lots of whistles: West Virginia committed 21 first-half fouls—including three each for Holton, Williams, Macon and Paige—a frenzy of whistles that left TCU shooting the double-bonus for the final 15 minutes.

Collins’ free throw completed a 4-point play during a 13-0 run that surged the Frogs ahead 26-20.

TCU sank 22 first-half free throws, nine more than their per-game average, to lead 47-45 at the break.

The fouls evened up somewhat in the second half, reducing West Virginia’s final margin to 33-27. At the free-throw line, WVU finished 26-of-39.

“The refs are doing the best job they can,” Williams said. “You’ve got the coaches, the fans, everybody in their ear and I can only imagine how hard it is to keep the game interesting for both halves and the people that’s watching.”

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