Turnovers, Shooting Woes Continuing to Haunt WVU

Attitude kept Allen on bench vs. Jayhawks

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins screams directions to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s first two-game losing streak of the season thanks to a 71-66 defeat at the hands of No. 10 Kansas on Monday night, left veteran coach Bob Huggins and his staff scratching their heads.

“We were turning the ball over and they were capitalizing hitting 3s,” junior forward Esa Ahmad said. “We gotta hit shots. We were open and didn’t hit shots. It comes down to knocking down shots. It was on us. It’s tough.”

Ahmad, who missed the No. 6 Mountaineers’ first 16 games while serving a NCAA suspension for academics, has provided some instant offense since his return, scoring 18 points and hauling down six rebounds in a 72-71 loss at then-No. 8 Texas Tech and chipping in 15 points and five caroms in Monday’s meltdown against the Jayhawks, who are looking for their 14th straight Big 12 regular-season crown

“Credit to them (Kansas) for playing good defense, but at the same time we couldn’t hit shots and it didn’t help turning the ball over,” Ahmad said. ”We gotta scramble on defense and pick up our man. We have to communicate. We really weren’t communicating. It’s something we have to work on in practice. It helped them hit shots.”

The Jayhawk helped most by WVU’s defensive lapses was senior sharpshooter Svi Myhailiuk.

“They (WVU) were losing track of me,” said Myhailiuk, who scored a game-high 17 points — 12 of which came in the second half. “My game revolves around my ability to find a spot where the defense loses me and waiting for Devonte’ (Graham) or Lagerald (Vick) to get the ball to me after they penetrate.”

And, that was the case time and time again after the hosts took a 15-point, 43-28, advantage on a Sagaba Konate layin with 19:28 left to be played.

“People not doing their job,” Huggins said. “We gave him (Myhailiuk) a 3 in the corner in the first half, and I took the guy out. We had a timeout and I said, ‘Please explain to me what you don’t understand about staying with him.’ Do not give him an open look in the corner. We go in, we talk about it at halftime, they come out and leave him open. I don’t know what would possess you to do that. I wish I knew. I don’t know. We just left him open.”

Conversely, West Virginia, which plays host to Texas at 2 p.m. on Saturday, couldn’t get the ball to drop from long range, connecting on 5 of 27 for the game (18.5 percent) and only 1 of 13 in the second 20 minutes (7.7 percent).

“We had guys open,” Huggins said. “We just didn’t pass the ball. I think all those 3s are a lack of toughness. That’s the easy way out as I tried to simplify it.”

The hosts were also hurt by a less-than-productive bench, which was playing without the services of freshman Teddy Allen. After being one of the team’s top performers in WVU’s first three conference games, Allen has seen his playing time diminish with only five minutes of action against Baylor and TTU and not coming off the bench at all in the loss to KU.

While Huggins would not address the issue openly, it is believed that a poor attitude had caused the coaching staff to lose confidence in the freshman’s play

Kentucky Tip Time Set

The Big 12 Conference and ESPN have announced that West Virginia’s basketball game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 27 will tip at 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.

The game will be televised by ESPN. No tickets remain for the Big 12/SEC Challenge contest.

Football Announces Change in Future Schedule

West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons and Pitt Director of Athletics Heather Lyke have announced the “Backyard Brawl” football game in 2022 at Heinz Field will be moved to Sept. 3 and will be the season opener for both schools.

The game, originally scheduled for Sept. 17, 2022, is part of a four-year home-and-home deal between the two schools. Games will be played in 2022 and 2024 in Pittsburgh and in Morgantown in 2023 and 2025.