WVU's Juwan Staten made a statement tonight by dishing out a career high in assists and dropping in a reverse lay up to provide the winning margin in a 66-64 win over Baylor. The win improves WVU to 12-9 (4-4).
What a difference a year makes in one team's experience. While we were 12-11 when we traveled to play the Bears last February, we had some extra carry on baggage (prima donnas and "talented but troubled" baggage). You could sense that team was headed the wrong way and fast. Starting with that Baylor loss, the 2013 squad finished the season 1-8.
This year we came into the Ferrell Center 11-9 and came away with a critical 12th win. Additionally, you can sense with this team that they are headed a very different direction. The same can’t be said for Baylor (13-7 / 1-6), who lost their fifth straight. I cant’ stand Baylor students. They are rich, snotty, private school Texans. And while their actual playing surface looks nice, their basketball facility is substandard and so is their crowd atmosphere. I know first hand, as I was in attendance last year in Waco.
I much preferred this year’s view from my local Buffalo Wild Wings…and this year's result.
Huggs said after the game, "We could have six more wins if we would have finished those games."
As my family does at the dinner table, it’s time to play "HIGH – LOW" :
- Juwan Staten was masterful - 5 Assists vs. 1 Turnover in first half. He went on to score 15 points and dish 9 assists. A critical 3-point play by Juwan at 8:25 turned the game up a notch in our favor. And for most of the game his man defense on Brady Heslip was outstanding.
- Transition offense – we took advantage of their superior size by running faster. As Brill (Gene Hackman) says in ENEMY of The STATE, "In guerrilla warfare, you try to use your weaknesses as strengths…If they're big and you're small, then you're mobile and they're slow."
- Remi Debo's 3-point shooting while Harris was on the bench in the first half. His "tres" at 6:10 was killer – his 2 pointer the next time down the court was bigger.
- The Turnover Battle – WVU outscored Baylor 15-0 on turnover during the first half and finished the game shutting out the Bears in this department.
- Ice Cold Shooting for the final 5:00 minutes. 1 field goal – Staten’s layup with 3.1 seconds. Our inability to close out games strongly is going to give me a coronary. And as wonderful as Staten’s scoring was, his free throw shooting almost killed us. 1 for 6.
- Rebounding – and not just any kind of poor rebounding – missed rebounds after the front part of a Baylor 1-and-1. Huggs nearly had an aneurism yelling at Henderson and Dibo after it happened a second time in the first half. After the game Huggs said, "That’s the most upset I’ve been all year at half time." And BU’s Rico Gathers is a BEAST. Wow. He’s going to have an NBA career akin to Dennis Rodman’s. And as good as a scorer as Eron Harris is, he’s a horrible rebounder. While we were out-rebounded by 10 for the game, to WVU’s credit, we did out-rebound them in the second half.
- Foul Trouble – Harris and Williams sat on the bench for the best part or the first half. But the worst part of tonight’s foul trouble was that it took it’s biggest toll on our big men. Noreen, Williams and Watkins were in trouble for most of the second half.
WVU is .500 in conference play, and that is remarkable. However, of the remaining 10 games of our regular season, the Mountaineers will face a ranked team 70% of the time. Next up is Kansas State this Saturday at the Coliseum in Morgantown. Coach Huggins said post game that it is time we do a better job protecting our home court.
It may be too early to say, but I think winning 18 games (6 of 10) gets us in the tournament. How many wins do you think we need?