Getting To Line Key For WVU

Mountaineers welcome TCU to Coliseum tonight

MORGANTOWN — Players for No. 19 West Virginia (18-7, 7-5 Big 12) won’t talk about it.

Veteran head coach Bob Huggins can’t talk about it.

But, the numbers don’t lie.

West Virginia heads into its 26th game of the regular season at 9 p.m. tonight when Texas Christian (17-8, 5-7 Big 12) invades the Coliseum as part of ESPN’s ‘Big Monday,’ knowing that their chances of winning go hand-in-hand with the number of free throws they, or their opponent, make.

In its first 25 games WVU has made more free throws than its opposition 10 times. Their record in those contests? 10 wins, 0 losses.

Twice the Mountaineers have made good on as many free throws as the team they are playing and have split — beating Fordham by an 86-69 margin, but losing to Kansas by a 71-66 margin.

But, the eye-opener occurs when fans witness their beloved team end up on the wrong side of that statistic. Thirteen times Huggins’ team has watched as their opponent strode to the free throw line more times.

On a trio of occasions, the difference was a double-digit one, resulting in losses to Texas Tech (72-71) and Kentucky (83-76) and one win over Oklahoma (75-73).

West Virginia is 7-6 in those games with four of those losses coming in Big 12 play. The latest one coming Saturday to an unranked Oklahoma State squad which enjoyed a 30-24 advantage at the line.

Both went to the foul line, though that area was owned more by the Cowboys, especially in the first half when OSU shot 15-for-18 to WVU’s 4-for-6.

That was a part of it, as Huggins pointed out, saying that it was “hard to guard them at the foul line. They shot 36. We shot 28. You saw it as much as I saw it.”

Bring in the Horned Frogs, who made the most of a 23-16 edge in made ‘freebies’ to defeat the Mountaineers by an 82-73 margin in their first meeting of the year, to Morgantown in what must be considered a must-win scenario for the hosts, who sit one game back of second place Kansas (8-4 Big 12) and two games behind the Red Raiders (9-3 Big 12).

“It depends on what happens on Monday and then the Saturday after that,” Huggins said. “It wasn’t just another day; it’s never just another day. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do, didn’t run the sets out of the timeout.”

Questions at guard still haunt the Mountaineers as senior Jevon Carter poured in a game-high 33 points but was not given a chance to attempt a game-winning shot in the game’s frantic final seconds when sophomore James ‘Beetle’ Bolden elected to play the role as hero.

Bolden, who earned a starting berth when senior Daxter Miles Jr. suffered from illness and a lack of consistent play, was supposed to hit Carter at the top of the key or dump the ball down to sophomore Sagaba Konate.

The Kentucky native elected to go for the 3-pointer with seven ticks left on the clock which was rebounded by the Cowboys’ Kendall Smith, who pitched the ball down to a wide-open Jeffrey Carroll for the game-clinching dunk.

“We didn’t run what we were supposed to run,” Huggins said. “In the last four minutes we were trying to get the ball inside to (Sagaba Konate) and he didn’t touch the ball once.”

Now Huggins and his team must attempt to right the ship against a TCU team fresh off an 87-71 win over Texas where Vladimir Brodziansky netted a game-high 25 points and Kouat Noi had his second straight career high with 18.

No. 6 Cincinnati 76, SMU 51

DALLAS (AP) — Kyle Washington had 17 points and eight rebounds and No. 6 Cincinnati remained undefeated in American Athletic Conference play, stretching its overall winning streak to 16 games.

The Bearcats (23-2, 12-0 AAC) missed their first seven shots, but were down only 5-2 when they finally scored on a dunk by Nysier Brooks. That started a 9-0 run that put them ahead to stay.

Jarron Cumberland had 12 points and Gary Clark 11 for Cincinnati, which finished 44 percent (28 of 63) overall from the field. Washington was 8-of-12 shooting.

Jimmy Whitt and Jahmal McMurray each had 19 points for SMU (15-10, 5-7).

No. 9 Duke 80, Georgia Tech 69

ATLANTA (AP) — Grayson Allen scored 23 points and No. 9 Duke beat Georgia Tech to end a two-game losing streak.

Held to single-digits the last two games in losses at St. John’s and North Carolina, Allen was 5 for 14 from the field, including three 3-pointers, and made all 10 of his free throws. He added six assists and four rebounds. It was the most points he had scored since getting 22 against Florida State on Dec. 30.

The Blue Devils (20-5, 8-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) won without center Marvin Bagley, the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder. The freshman sat out with a mild right knee sprain.

Wendell Carter Jr. had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Gary Trent Jr. added 15 points and six rebounds.

Josh Okogie had 29 points, six rebounds and four assists for Georgia Tech (11-14, 4-8).

Duke scored the first nine points. The Blue Devils pulled away with a 10-0 run midway through the half, a streak punctuated by back-to-back dunks from Carter, for a 28-10 lead.

Georgia Tech lost starting point guard Jose Alvarado to a left elbow injury with 8:14 left in the first half. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays.

No. 20 Michigan 83, Wisconsin 72

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Moe Wagner scored 20 points, went 8 of 14 from the field and added 11 rebounds, and Michigan rode a hot-shooting first half to beat Wisconsin.

Duncan Robinson scored 16 points for the Wolverines (20-7, 9-5). They won for the first time on the road since upsetting Michigan State on Jan. 13.

Ethan Happ led Wisconsin (11-16, 4-10) with a season-high 29 points.