West Virginia falls short at No. 15 TCU, 76-72

Thirteen days after West Virginia’s pressure and physicality bothered TCU during a nine-point win for the Mountaineers, the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs handled both in far better fashion Tuesday night at Schollmaier Arena.

In turn, TCU produced 48 paint points and earned a season split of the series, holding off West Virginia for a 76-72 victory. 

“We didn’t come out with a lot of enthusiasm,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said on postgame radio. “I was extremely upset with us in the first 10 minutes of the game. Our lack of energy and lack of competitiveness. Tried to talk to them about it at halftime. I thought it was better, but you put yourself in a hole and every little thing becomes way more important than what it really is.”

Despite missing leading scorer and Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Mike Miles Jr., TCU (17-5, 6-3) had its way offensively for much of the rematch. Just as it did during the first meeting this season, TCU shot better than 50 percent (30 for 58). This time around, however, the Horned Frogs got off 16 more shots as they reduced their turnovers from 19 to seven.

The Horned Frogs made 28-of-48 two-point field-goal attempts and consistently converted high-percentage shots in coming within two points of 50 in the paint.

“Totally absurd for the guys that we have,” Huggins said. “Then you have guys making excuses and that kind of thing, and the guys supposed to be our leaders did not lead. We may have to find ourselves new leaders. You can’t have your leaders pouting. It’s their fault. Not anybody else’s fault. They’re the guys supposed to be ready and jacked to play. And it’s older guys. This is it for them. They did not give us the enthusiasm, toughness and competitiveness that they generally do.” 

West Virginia (13-9, 2-7) never led after 9-8 and trailed for the final 35-plus minutes while falling to 1-4 in Big 12 road games.

TCU’s largest first-half advantage was nine on separate occasions, the latter of which was 28-19 after a Shahada Wells layup.

Forward Pat Suemnick scored on a short jumper and reserve guard Seth Wilson followed with one of his two first-half 3-pointers to bring the Mountaineers to within four. Wilson’s second triple 2:01 before the intermission cut WVU’s deficit to 29-27, though Micah Peavy answered with a trey on the other end.

The Horned Frogs ultimately went to halftime leading 36-32 after JaKobe Coles beat the first-half buzzer scoring from close range.

TCU went to the break having made 17-of-33 shots and with only two turnovers. Additionally, the Horned Frogs matched their rebounding output of 18 from the entire first meeting with the Mountaineers.

West Virginia never got its second-half deficit inside of four, though it was still there 3 minutes into the second half after Erik Stevenson’s jumper trimmed TCU’s lead to 42-38.

Xavier Cook’s layup and a Wells triple allowed TCU to expand the margin to nine, and the Horned Frogs gained their first double-digit advantage on a Wells layup to lead 49-38, though WVU forward Tre Mitchell answered quickly with a bucket.

TCU was in control and led 53-42 on a Damion Baugh jumper, before Emmitt Matthews Jr. made a 3 as part of his five straight points for the Mountaineers.

WVU’s deficit was still six after Joe Toussaint scored on a layup to make it 57-51 with 6:37 left, but the Horned Frogs went on to score on five straight possessions, the last of which was a Coles layup for a 67-56 lead with 4:06 remaining.

“We put ourselves in a bad position and couldn’t find our way out of it,” Huggins said. “When we did get back in it, we had people stop and stare at the ball and got back cut for layups.”

Stevenson accounted for the next five points to bring the visitors to within six, and West Virginia trailed by four at 71-67 on Toussaint’s layup with 25 seconds left, but could get no closer.

After being held to eight fast break points in the first meeting, TCU had 20 of the 29 fast break points in the game.

“You have to give them credit. They made shots. They made free throws,” Huggins said. “They beat us down the floor a few times because we jogged.” 

Stevenson scored 15 second-half points to lead the Mountaineers with 17. Mitchell added 15 points and six rebounds, while Toussaint scored 12 and Matthews contributed 10.

Jimmy Bell Jr., who had 15 points and 12 rebounds in the first meeting with the Horned Frogs, was held to four points and one field-goal attempt over 18 minutes. After the game, Bell was involved in an incident in which he became incensed at TCU’s student section and was reportedly restrained by teammates and TCU personnel.

“They were on us. They are every time we come here, but that should never cause anything,” Huggins said. “A bunch of kids up there pointing and calling names. From what I understand, one of them was pointing his finger in Jimmy Bell’s mother’s face, which Jimmy didn’t take too kindly to.”

Coles led TCU with 17 points, while Baugh and Wells added 16 apiece. Wells took on an expanded role after Miles suffered a hyperextended knee Saturday early in a loss to Mississippi State.

Cork scored 15 points for a fourth double-figure scorer and made all six of his shots in the process.

Baugh also had six rebounds and 10 assists.

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