It's never a good thing to lose to the same Big 12 Team three times in a season. But today's 80-70 loss in the Big 12 Tournament once again underscored that the Mountaineers have an amazing, young nucleus of players. We competed with Baylor without our two senior guards (one of whom was 1st Team All Conference). Which means the team we saw today - shooting the 3-point shot confidently (Paige, Carter & Miles) and rebounding with vigor (Williams, Holton & Macon), they're all coming back next year.
On the other hand it is exactly that youth that failed us in the final minutes of the contest. Trailing 67-66, with 4:40 remaining in the game, freshman Jevon Carter launched an ill-advised three-point attempt from well beyond NBA range. Problem was, there were :20 seconds left on the shot clock and no need to shoot that quickly. Another defensive stop by the Mountaineers gave us the ball again trailing by one with 3:56 left when freshman Daxter Miles turned the ball over on a sloppy, floater of a pass. Baylor scored and now it was 69-66.
Next possession, Carter inexplicably lost his handle on the ball and turned it over again, resulting in an easy fast break for the Bears. 71-66. The tide had turned. A couple of foolish, pointless fouls by sophomore Devin Williams led to his fouling out of the game and that is largely why WVU is coming home tonight.
So, while it might be difficult to say after a loss that it's a great day to be a Mountaineer, it's apparently going to be a great couple of years to be a Mountaineer basketball fan.
Here's the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY.:
- Keeping Rico Gathers in check (who only had 9 rebounds). Strong day on the Boards for Williams & Macon.
- Daxter Miles & Jevon Carter will start next year and have made such amazing progress under the tutelage of Staten & Brown.
- Huggs defensive adjustment - how smart was it to not press on a team that worked us all season? That's why Huggs gets paid the Big Bucks. His plan to attack of heart of Baylor's zone worked until they adjusted their guard pressure.
- Jaysean Paige's second half completely made up for a first half that was ugly. His 18 points were a career high and his 3-point shooting is going to be a great weapon to have in our arsenal when we won't have the penetrating capacity of Juwan Staten.
- As much as we're celebrating our freshman guards Miles & Carter, both had late turnovers that moved the score from 67-66 to 71-66. That's just nerves and inexperience.
- Turnovers - a usual area of strength was a negative as we had 14 TO's to their 10.
- Jaysean Page's negative contributions in first half included a blown lay up, lane violation on free throw, , turnovers, technical foul for trying to dunk five seconds after the whistle was blown.
- Devin Williams' last two fouls were just pointless. The sophomore cannot do this if the ‘Eers are planning to make it out of the first round of the NCAA.
- Nathan Adrian's offensive confidence: you can see him hesitating on wideopen shots.
- Brent Musburger; has there ever been a sportscaster that feels this much like a used car salesman? Thank God for IMG's audio feed.
WVU now awaits their NCAA Tournament seeding and destination on Sunday.