Team energy and bench lead WVU back into win column

Total team effort over TCU

By Chris Jackson


MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia’s bench play and its energy helped get it the win it desperately needed.


Following Saturday’s tough loss to Oklahoma State, the bench outscored TCU’s reserves 38-8 while the energy was there all night as the No. 20 West Virginia Mountaineers (19-7, 8-5 Big 12) returned to the win column with an 82-66 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs (17-9, 5-8 Big 12) at the Coliseum on Monday.


“I think out energy both halves was awesome and we came out playing, and it showed out there on the court today,” said WVU redshirt sophomore guard James “Beetle” Bolden. “


At the forefront of the scoring off the bench was freshman forward Teddy Allen and Bolden. The duo combined for 30 of the 38 bench points on 13-of-22 shooting.


Allen scored 16 points and missed only five of his 13 shots, which comes off two consecutive scoreless performances. Bolden, who started the past two games, was back to his typical role as a sixth man and scored a game-high 16 points on nine shot attempts.


Behind them, redshirt sophomore forward Lamont West had six of the remaining bench points and sophomore forward Maciej Bender had the other two.


Senior guard Daxter Miles replaced Bolden in the starting lineup and was another one of the key contributors on the roster. His 13 points in 27 minutes were his highest scoring total since the Jan. 20 win over Texas, when he totaled 15 points.


“I think I had better energy,” Miles said. “I felt better mentally. Body wise I felt better.”


Defensively, the energy was there for the press defense. TCU entered the game averaging the most assists in the Big 12 (19.8) and the No. 2 offense behind Oklahoma (85 points per game), but was not able to find its usual success on offense


The Horned Frogs finished with 13 assists and 13 turnovers, allowing 16 points off turnovers. Kenrich Williams recorded more than half (seven) of their assists.


“They’re a great passing team,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “They had a hard time passing because we were up in the lanes where we should have been. I thought our help (defense) was pretty good. I thought we guarded back cuts pretty good. I thought our defense was much better.”


WVU was hitting shots, too. After a 52 percent effort from the field Saturday, it shot 51 percent Monday, including a 56 percent performance beyond the arc.


Bender provided valuable minutes for WVU, matching his career-high rebounding total with six and finishing at plus-17 in the plus/minus in 16 minutes.


“It was great,” Huggins said. “That’s what we thought he could do when we recruited him. I thought he stepped out and made shots, too. He hadn’t been able to do that yet, but I think he can.”


Bender saw extra playing time due to the bench of sophomore forward Sagaba Konate for the final 17 minutes of the first half. Konate, who ended the night with eight points and five rebounds, played 15 minutes in the second half.


“Sags sat over there because he didn’t believe me,” Huggins said. “I said we’re going to play hard and he didn’t believe me. He believed me in the second half.”


Monday’s victory provided a model of how WVU wants to play going forward. The team mentioned how important playing a full 40 minutes would be if it wants to get back on track.


Putting forth this type of display will be especially important when WVU travels to No. 13 Kansas at 6 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.


“Just take it day by day,” Miles said. “We’ve got to play like we did tonight.”

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