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Mountaineers overcome second-half lull to top TCU 82-70

Daxter Miles Jr.’s big game and Jevon Carter’s clutch shooting lifted WVU to the win in the WVU Coliseum on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

In a rematch with a familiar face, the WVU men’s basketball team defeated Jamie Dixon and his new team, TCU, in the first home game of Big 12 play, 82-70.

The Mountaineers (13-2, 2-1) did much of their work in the first half, but needed to stave off a big run from the Horned Frogs (12-3, 1-2) in the middle of the second half to seal the victory.

Dexter Miles Jr., Esa Ahmad and Jevon Carter provided much of the offense throughout the game for WVU.

Miles Jr. had another huge game for the old gold and blue, leading all scorers with 22 points on 9-19 shooting. Carter finished with 13, all of which came in the second half. He was 3-7 from three. Ahmad added 16 points, shooting 63.6 percent from the field.

Alex Robinson finished with 17 points to lead the Horned Frogs. He was seconded by Vlad Brodziansky, who contributed 14 points in the paint.

WVU carried a 39-28 lead into the locker room. The Mountaineers steadily built the lead over the first 20 minutes.

There were two reasons the Mountaineers produced anything offensively in the first half: Miles Jr. and Ahmad. The two combined for 23 points and 9-15 shooting while the rest of the team offered up only six buckets on 19 attempts.

Despite leading through much of the early states of the game, WVU struggled to create offensively, relying on some isolation plays by Ahmad and Miles. TCU out-rebounded WVU in the early goings, taking away second-chance opportunities from the Mountaineers and keeping the home team from pulling away.

As TCU’s man-to-man defense frustrated the Mountaineers and forced long-range attempts, the Horned Frogs tied the game at 11, at 12:04.

After TCU tied the game, WVU went on to build an eight-point lead, 26-18, punctuated by Tarik Phillip going coast-to-coast off a steal for a lay-in. The lead continued to grow for the Mountaineers from there.

TCU came out of the locker room storming, scoring seven in a row, but WVU reclaimed momentum with a bucket-turnover-bucket sequence. After that, Miles pushed the lead to 10, 47-37.

One of the key highlights of the second half was Ahmad’s block-to-dunk sequence, which he used to catapult his output in the second half.

TCU then went on a 14-6 run to pull within one at 9:47, but Sag Konate’s and-one put WVU back to a five-point lead.

Inexplicably, TCU entered bonus at 8:40, as WVU was whistled for 14 team fouls to five by the Horned Frogs in the second half.

WVU shooting fell off a cliff from 12 minutes to the 9:30 mark in the second half, and allowed TCU to score 14 points in that time. That rut broken by back-to-back three-pointers from Jevon Carter. At the under-four minute media timeout, WVU had a 71-65 lead, despite being outshot 54.2 percent to 48.3 percent.

Though he was quiet in the first half, Carter scored all 13 of his points in the second stanza, nine of which lifted the Mountaineers from that scoring drought.

The Mountaineers put together a run of their own to close off TCU, outscoring the Horned Frogs 17-9 from 5:07 until the end of the game.

WVU won the turnover battle 18-9, converting those into 28 points. The Mountaineers also upped their rebounding game, especially on the offensive glass, in the second half. WVU out-rebounded TCU 38-33, with 20 of those offensive rebounds turning into 15 second-chance points.

Bob Huggins and his team now turn their attention to No. 2 Baylor, who comes to Morgantown on Tuesday, January 10, for a 7 p.m. tip.