The West Virginia Mountaineers fall to 5-3 on the season with a 66-56 loss to the Florida Gators (5-3) in Madison Square Garden as part of ESPN’s annual Jimmy V Classic.
If you came into this game hoping to see some signs of improvement as West Virginia nears closer to their Big 12 conference schedule, you’re probably not feeling any better than you were following that loss to Western Kentucky in Myrtle Beach. Instead of seeing the offensive powerhouse the Mountaineers had disguised themselves as over their previous four games, we got an offensively inept team that just couldn’t get anything going.
The first half went just about as bad as it could possibly go for the Mountaineers. They committed 10 turnovers, shot just 31% from the field and looked genuinely lost on both ends of the court for the opening 17 minutes until they managed to put together a 9-0 run to end the half, heading to the locker room down just 30-27.
West Virginia would seize the lead just moments into the second half with a Esa Ahmad jam off a Beetle Bolden assist to put the Mountaineers up 31-30. Unfortunately the momentum came to a screeching halt as the Gators opened up a 14-2 run to take a 44-33 lead at the midway point of the half. The struggles from the first half returned and the Mountaineers just couldn’t dig themselves back out of the hole.
With all that said, I could’ve just made these next two sentences my entire recap and you would still be able to get a good idea of how bad of a team performance this was.
The Mountaineers were led by Chase Harler with 11 points and Wesley Harris with 9 points. The rest of the team - Sagaba Konate, Beetle Bolden and Esa Ahmad, specifically - were virtually non-existent.
West Virginia will have a chance to redeem themselves when they take on the Pitt Panthers on Saturday in Morgantown in the Backyard Brawl: Basketball Edition. That game tips off at Noon ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2.