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Huggins Disappointed With WVU’s First-Half Effort: ‘That Was Not My Team Out There’



(Dale Sparks/WVU Athletic Communications)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On Friday against North Texas, West Virginia missed 26 shots, including nine layups, along with 10 turnovers in the first half — the ugliest half of basketball WVU has played this season.

The game did not start poorly for No. 11 West Virginia, all things considered as the Mountaineers were able to hold UNT without even a single point from the 15:49 mark in the first half to 7:36, more than eight and a half minutes of in-game time. There was trouble lurking, however.

WVU shot just 9 of 35 (25.7 percent) from the field in the first half and turned the ball over 10 times. That offensive ineptitude meant the team was only able to turn its strong defensive effort into an 11-0 run. When West Virginia’s poor shooting finally caught up with the Mountaineers, North Texas was able to respond with a 12 to 0 run of its own and wrestle the lead away.

WVU coach Bob Huggins said the explanation for the Mountaineers’ slow start was simple — they were not playing hard. When that changed, the Mountaineers came away with a win against last season’s Conference USA champion in this season’s home-opener at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.

“I can deal with missed shots and I can deal with missed free throws,” Huggins said following Friday’s win against the Mean Green. “I cannot deal with not playing hard. We didn’t play hard. That was not my team out there.”

Star big men Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe shot a combined 0 of 9 from the floor, and Huggins only let them play a combined 14 minutes in the first half.

“Well that was because neither one of them played very well to start the game,” Huggins said. “I mean, when you have a one-footer and you miss it by two feet, you’re having a bad day. I don’t care who you are, you’re having a bad day. You have to come ready to play, and that is all we talked to them about was [to] come ready to play.”


For as poor a first half as the Mountaineers had, however, they came out and started the second half on an 18-0 run. It took North Texas seven minutes to score its first second-half points, a layup by senior Thomas Bell.

The Mountaineers improved on everything in the second half. They shot 14 of 26 from the field (53.8 percent), made 2 of 4 3-pointers. West Virginia also committed just eight fouls and only turned the ball over five times in the final period.

“We play to our competition a lot, which I feel like if we don’t cut it out now it’s going to get us in the long run,” Culver said during his postgame interview. “Even if we had just come out and played with the intensity we play with against Gonzaga, if we would’ve used that here we would’ve blown this team out of the water right out of the gate. I just feel like my team is struggling with playing to our competition and lowering our standards and not capitalizing on the stuff we would normally capitalize on.”

North Texas would cut WVU’s lead down to four at one point in the second half, but the Mountaineers were able to hang on and secure their fifth win of the season.

Culver finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but Tshiebwe was never able to right the ship, going scoreless for the entire game. Guards Sean McNeil (15 points) and Taz Sherman (13) led the offense in scoring.

WVU will not have much time to rest as it will play host to No. 19 Richmond on Sunday. That game starts at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.

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