Defense, Carter Guide WVU Past Aggies - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Defense, Carter Guide WVU Past Aggies

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By Chris Jackson

After taking another sizeable lead, West Virginia nearly stared into the same letdown the team faced against Oklahoma earlier this month.

The Mountaineers, who once held a 20-point lead, watched it slip away before Esa Ahmad’s late free throws to earn the narrow 81-77 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon.

It marked WVU’s first win in the Big 12/SEC Challenge since the showdown was created in 2013.

“We let their shooters get open shots,” said WVU senior forward Brandon Watkins. “The intensity of our defense kind of dropped. It’s something that we’ve been doing a couple games this season that we lost. We really have to figure that out and just play consistent the whole game.”

Texas A&M made a pair of free throws and open shots from long range to cut WVU’s lead to 79-77 with 14 seconds remaining. It would take nine seconds to foul Ahmad - who entered the closing seconds with a 40 percent mark - and force the sophomore into 

Despite Ahmad’s timely free throw shooting to secure the win, he finished with a 6-of-12 mark from the charity stripe. WVU would also struggle as a whole, ending the contest with a 52 percent conversion rate.

“We didn’t knock down free throws today,” Ahmad said. “We were able to hit some down the stretch, but we’ve got to get in the gym and work on them.”

Yet as the woes to close out a game reappeared, Jevon Carter delivered another impressive display. He would finish with 19 points in 34 minutes, shooting 4-for-5 from 3-point range and 6-for-10 from the field.

And the junior guard added nine rebounds, becoming the team’s leading rebounder for the second straight game.

“Jevon deserves all the good that he gets because he works his butt off,” Huggins said. “He does all the things that you dream you could have a player do.”

A&M’s size advantage yielded results in rebounding and Tyler Davis’ double-double (19 points, 18 rebounds), showing what’s been their top aspect all season long. Freshman Robert Williams added 10 rebounds while Admon Gilder scored 24 points.   

“He’s everything we told our guys he was going to be. He’s good,” Huggins said. “The other guy (Robert Williams) is a top 10 pick.”

But as the size once again proved its worth, the mistakes mounted against a WVU squad that prides itself on feeding off the opponent’s turnovers. Billy Kennedy’s bunch gave the ball away 23 times, leading to 25 Mountaineer points. 

Daxter Miles led the way with three steals, followed by two apiece from Carter and Nate Adrian. 

“I just don’t think they’re quite used to it,” Adrian said of A&M’s performance against the press. “I think it surprised them a little bit in the beginning.”

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