WVU basketball: Poor 3-point shooting has been a theme in West Virginia's losses
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There were two problems for West Virginia in Monday night's loss to Texas.
First, the Mountaineers were 4-for-25 from 3-point range, their worst shooting performance from there this season.
Second, the Mountaineers attempted 25 3-point shots.
"When our 3-point shots are going well for us, I think we can ride with it," point guard Juwan Staten said. "When they're not, we've got to find something else to do. When we start to rely on the 3 to bring us back, we dig ourselves a hole. We need to understand when we're not making 3s we need to get closer shots and not live and die by the 3."
In 10 wins this season, the Mountaineers have shot 42.5 percent from 3-point range. In seven losses, they've shot 32.3 percent. Worse yet, they attempt five more 3-point shots per loss.
WVU has attempted 20 or more 3s in nine games and won just four. The Mountaineers have made seven or more 3s 12 times. In the five games with six or fewer 3s, they're 2-3.
They were 6-for-17 against Mount St. Mary's but shot 22-for-33 from 2-point range with 26 points in the paint. In a win against Marshall, WVU shot 4-for-15, but made 20 of 28 free throws and had 36 points in the paint.
WVU was 4-for-19 in a loss to Missouri that saw a season-high 25-point deficit. The 36.9 percent shooting in a loss to Purdue was the second-lowest of the season and sunk by a 3-for-18 day from 3-point range. The 80-69 loss to Texas saw WVU give up a season-high shooting percentage (52.7) and finish with a season-worst minus-19 rebounding margin.
"I'm not lying to you - we don't guard," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "We don't guard the way we've guarded in the past. We sure as hell don't rebound it the way we've rebounded in the past. So we have to make shots. Will we get better at guarding? Absolutely. Will we get better rebounding? Absolutely."
The shooting has to improve, too, because that's where WVU goes for points. Huggins said WVU's first four possessions were designed to get a shot close to the basket. None of them worked.
Devin Williams, Kevin Noreen and Brandon Watkins make up the entirety of WVU's inside presence.
They combined for six points. Williams, who played through the flu, was 1-for-7 and his basket was a jumper from the top of the key. Noreen didn't shoot once.
"We've struggled for 17 games inside," Huggins said. "We don't have anybody in there who can score."
The team's top 3-point shooters all had problems against the Longhorns, who were actually the worst 3-point defense in the Big 12, but did just fine with a zone defense and long defenders against what had been the league's second-best 3-point offense.
On one hand, it made sense to take shots because WVU had been good at it and Texas had been bad against it. Terry Henderson made a 3 to start the game. He and his teammates missed their next 15, though, and Texas led 59-42 before Nathan Adrian (1-for-4) ended a 29:47 rut without a 3.
"We have shooters and a shooter's job is to shoot the ball, but in my personal opinion, I feel like if the ball's not going in, you have to find another way," said Staten, who is tied with Eron Harris for the team lead in scoring (17.4) and is just 4-for-11 from 3-point range all season.
"Maybe you get fouled and go to the line. It's good to see the ball go in. Maybe you make a couple layups. Then when you go back to the 3-point line you've got more confidence."
Harris was 0-for-7, Remi Dibo was 2-for-7 and Henderson was 1-for-6. Harris managed to make 3 of 4 2-point shots while Henderson found another avenue for points and made 6 of 11 2-point shots to scratch together 16 points.
"I thought for the most part we took makeable shots," Huggins said. "For some reason unbeknownst to me, we've started pump-faking when we're open and dribbling into people. I don't understand the value in that. We had some catch-and-shoot shots we didn't shoot.
"But we had shots we usually make. Terry and Eron make those shots. Remi generally makes those shots. We just didn't make any."
The Mountaineers did manage 30 points in the paint and were as close as 11 points late with a few chances to at least make things interesting after falling behind 70-49 with 6:22 to go.
"They didn't quit," Huggins said. "That itself, I think, is a start. They're going to keep playing hard. They're not going to lay it down, which would have been easy when you're shooting it as badly as we shot it. They didn't do that.
"We tried to get back in the game. If we could have made a shot we would have gotten back in the game. We just didn't make one."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.