Scoring Slump, Duquesne Catch Up to WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Scoring Slump, Duquesne Catch Up to WVU

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MORGANTOWN -

It really is a popular refrain with West Virginia basketball over the course of Bob Huggins' tenure with the program. When the Mountaineers lose, the conversation almost always turns to the team's inability to make shots.

In squandering a 15-point lead to Duquesne in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, WVU not only did not make the shots, but they often couldn't find the shot in the first place and they ultimately let it affect them defensively.

The offense, as it has for the majority of the season, looked completely out of whack as the Mountaineers failed to run their sets against a Dukes team that had no business mounting a comeback on a team that had just handed Virginia Tech its first loss of the season.

"Second half, we relaxed, thought we had the game and Huggs told us, second half's a new half, we've still got to play," freshman Terry Henderson said after the 60-56 loss.

If Bob Huggins is still giving the "play 40 minutes" speech to this team, they have longer to go than it may have appeared in losses to Gonzaga and Davidson earlier in the season.

And as long as we're talking about that Bulldogs beat down back in Spokane, Wash., let's not pretend as though this lack of offense was anything new to those who have observed the Mountaineers.

Running their motion offense, West Virginia continued to pass the ball around the perimeter until they finally found a shot they were willing to take, which rarely fell through the basket.

In preparation for cuing the familiar refrain of WVU basketball, let's lay out the numbers. The Mountaineers made 9-of-32 field goals in that second half, good for 28 percent. When they needed someone to connect from the charity stripe, they came up short, with just one free throw on six second half attempts.

Okay, now place the needle on that broken record.

"They made open shots, we didn't," Huggins said. "When we gave them open shots, they made them. We had all kinds of open shots and didn't make them."

It must be even more perplexing to the head coach when considering what he – but no one else privy to WVU basketball on game days – sees in practice.

"Yesterday, in practice, Terry Henderson shot the ball as well as anybody can shoot the ball and [he] didn't shoot it today," said Huggins. "Jabarie Hinds has spent more time in the practice facility than I think anybody other than Kevin Noreen and he can't buy one."

Earlier in the game, the Mountaineers were able to use Duquesne's misses to their advantage, but in the later stages, they couldn't capitalize at the other end. In transition on two consecutive trips down the floor, WVU turned it over.

First, it was a blocked layup attempt from Deniz Kilicli, then Juwan Staten simply threw it away. The more the Mountaineers failed to convert on the offensive end, the more the Dukes used it to their advantage in chipping away at their halftime deficit.

"We took a lot of long shots, a couple shots that bounced long and started their break," Staten said. "That's something that we can't do, or if we're going to shoot long, we have to have someone getting back and they got us a couple of times not having a guard back and they got us in transition."

The easiest way to let a team back into a game is to give them confidence. Huggins talked about how his guys had multiple opportunities to blow the game wide open, thereby stealing any chance at optimism from the home team. But on countless trips down the court, they did the opposite, handing the ball to Duquesne in transition without anyone in position to stop quick points.

When the Dukes started dropping 3-pointers, they seemed to be erasing any doubt that they would erase the Mountaineers' lead.

Huggins made it clear in his post game chat with the media that he feels like the other aspects of West Virginia's game should have been enough to ensure that even in a scoring slump, the Mountaineers could hold on to get the win.

"You think this is bad, I've had teams that shoot it way worse than this," he said. "But we scored off our defense, we rebounded the ball. We just got drilled today on the glass. Absolutely drilled today on the glass."

Staten echoed his head coach's thoughts.

"If you stop the other team from scoring, then we should come out with a victory, but we didn't do that tonight," said the sophomore.

That was in a contest against the 164th best scoring team in the nation. On Saturday, WVU will face a much tougher test with an undefeated Michigan team. If there is any hope for the Mountaineers, they will need the kind of help from the Wolverines that they dished out to the Dukes on Tuesday night.

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