MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Friday night, West Virginia dropped its first loss of the season, falling 82-71 to Marquette.
Fans may want to overreact but this Marquette team is a good team.
Yes, the way that the Mountaineers lost was disappointing, as they blew a 12-point lead in the second half, but Shaka Smart has turned the Marquette program around in just his first few games as head coach.
Coming into this game, Marquette was 4-0, defeating No. 10 Illinois and Ole Miss. Darryl Morsell and Justin Lewis are a really good duo, while Tyler Kolek showed he is a great 3-point shooter. Marquette is a physical team that can move the ball around well.
Despite saying that Marquette is a good team, WVU didn’t play well at all in the second half on Friday night.
Bob Huggins was right about a few things regarding this year’s team:
The defense can’t guard the three-point shot and they can’t make lay-ups.
Every time West Virginia decided to double-team the ball handler, the Golden Eagles were able to swing the ball, finding the wide-open shot almost every possession. Marquette shot 46 percent from three, including 8-of-13 in the second half.
West Virginia shot 5-of-18 on lay-ups. Nothing else needs to be said about that.
Huggins wants to see his team play consistent throughout all 40 minutes of the game. The future Hall of Famer is frustrated that his team only shows up in the first half of every game this season.
“I mean every game we’ve had, we’ve come out and played pretty good in the first half and came out as flat as could be in the second half,” Huggins said on the post-game radio show.
It will take time for this WVU team to adjust. They brought in three transfers and four freshmen. They’re also asking for every returning player to step up into a bigger role. The more games they play, the better they get. Sometimes losing is the best way for a team to adjust and fix their mistakes.
The way they played in the first half against Marquette was almost unbeatable. The Mountaineers shot 58 percent from the field in the first half, connecting on 5-of-7 of their three’s. Nine of the ten players who appeared in the first half scored. Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil were getting everyone involved. It was a team effort.
West Virginia also won the rebounding battle in the first half, then proceeded to get out-rebounded 22-14 in the second period.
This team needs to find its consistent rhythm in the second half.
If West Virginia can find the consistency throughout the entire game, they will make some noise in the Big 12 and surprise some people.
(Top Photo: Kelsie LeRose – WVSN)