WVU basketball: Mountaineers end road skid, top TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Juwan Staten scored the last nine points for West Virginia in the final 4:07 and the Mountaineers started Big 12 play by ending a six-game road losing streak with a 74-69 win against TCU.
WVU, which went 13-19 last season and 6-12 in conference play, was 0-2 on the road this season and lost the final four a season ago after winning here at the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Feb. 9, 2013.
The Mountaineers (9-5, 1-0) trailed in the middle of the first half, but led the final 21:43 and answered late scores by the Horned Frogs (9-4, 0-1) to end TCU's five-game winning streak and five-game home winning streak before a crowd of 5,038.
"The biggest thing was staying solid," Staten said. "We talked in practice about how teams are going to make runs. It's college basketball -- teams are good enough to make runs. You have to withstand the run and have your own. We did a good job taking their best punch and delivering our own. On the road, that's the best you can ask for."
Staten led the way to the finish and had 15 points. WVU tried a variety of offensive options late in the second half, but saw jumpers misfire and a concentrated effort to get the ball inside do little to help. When the Mountaineers needed points, Staten drove and was either fouled or scored in the lane.
Up 65-62, Staten either made a free throw or a basket on four straight possessions. He answered TCU scores with one of his own twice, but also allowed for a little drama by going 1-for-2 at the foul line three times during his nine-point run. His layup after TCU missed three times on their penultimate possession put WVU ahead 74-67 and nearly matched the largest lead of the game, which had been 49-41 with 15:02 left in the game.
"We didn't have a better option," West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins said. "He was option 1 and probably option 1A."
Eron Harris played through the flu he'd been fighting all week and had 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the floor and 4-for-5 shooting from 3-point range.
"If nobody knew I was sick," Harris said, "you wouldn't have known."
Devin Williams battled fellow freshman Karviar Shepherd down low and won the matchup with 12 points and eight rebounds. Nathan Adrian added nine points and six rebounds and some key plays in the first half.
Terry Henderson had 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting and was 1-for-5 from 3-point range, where he's missed 15 of his last 19, but added seven rebounds and a critical put-back late. That put the Mountaineers up 65-60 with 5:13 to play and it was the last time someone other than Staten scored.
"That's the part of the game I look forward to the most," Staten said. "I know the ball is going to be in my hands a lot and I'll be counted on to make the right plays. That's what we needed there. We needed the right play. We needed to come down and have smart possessions when the game got close."
The Horned Frogs matched a season-high with nine 3s on 19 attempts, but missed 10 of their final 12 shots there. The second-best free-throw shooting team in the Big 12 also went 10-for-17 at the foul line and 4-for-10 in the final 10 minutes.
Amric Fields had 22 points for the Horned Frogs and Brandon Parrish added 18 points and four 3s. Kyan Anderson scored 12 points and had four assists, but he point guard fouled out with 6:26 to go. The 6-foot-10 Shepherd, who the school bills as "the highest-rated prospect to ever sign with TCU," scored only two points on free throws and had just four rebounds in 27 foul-plagued minutes.
Williams drew Shepherd's fourth foul with 10:09 to go. Shepherd sat for eight WVU offensive possessions. The Mountaineers tried to drive, pass or run a play inside on seven of those possessions and totaled five points -- three on free throws from Staten. A 3 from Harris, though, gave the Mountaineers a 63-58 lead.
They traveled to Lubbock, Texas, after the game and play at Texas Tech (8-6, 0-1) at 6 p.m. on Monday.
"We've spent a ton of time trying to guard better," Huggins said. "What they shot (47.2 percent) is too good to be able beat a team consistently."
The first half was a test for the Mountaineers with seven ties and 10 lead changes. TCU led by as many as five points when Parrish's 3 built a 28-23 lead with 9:32 to go. It was the seventh straight made 3 to start the game and the Horned Frogs, who shoot just 43.8 percent from the floor (seventh in the Big 12) and 33.7 percent from 3-point range (ninth in the Big 12), had made 10-of-14 shots.
WVU wasn't in bad shape and Harris' third 3 in as many attempts started to turn things for the Mountaineers. Shepherd and potent guard Charles Hill, Jr., had to sit for TCU with two fouls and the Horned Frogs missed their final three 3s of the half and nine of their last 13 shots.
Adrian got the Mountaineers going late in the half, first scoring inside against a zone coming out of a timeout and then rebounding Henderson's missed 3 and making two free throws after he was fouled. TCU's defense lost Harris in the zone and Harris ran around the left side and then up the baseline to catch a lob pass from Staten for a dunk.
Williams scored inside and made a free throw to make him 3-for-3 at the line in the half and give WVU a 39-37 lead, but Fields made two free throws to tie the score for the final time before halftime. Adrian changed that quickly with a 3 from the corner and WVU had scored 12 points on five straight possessions. The Mountaineers had only scored on more than back-to-back possessions one other time in the half.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.