Dec. 03, 2016
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) The last time No. 25 West Virginia played a major program, they came up short, 81-77 against Temple.
They didn’t want it to happen again, not even in a packed arena where No. 6 Virginia had dispatched its last 24 opponents.
Esa Ahmad hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining Saturday and West Virginia scored 11 of the game’s final 13 points to end the nation’s sixth-longest home winning streak with a 66-57 victory Saturday.
It was the kind of win the Mountaineers felt like they needed to make things right.
”We felt like we gave that one away,” Tarik Phillip said of the Temple game, ”so our mindset was to make sure we controlled the game.”
They did by using their trademark press that forced Virginia into a season-high 14 turnovers.
”You can’t replicate that,” Virginia point guard London Perrantes said. ”They do something completely different than anybody in the country. … It’s brutal. Having to play against a press for 40 minutes, it’s tough and they do not stop. They keep going till the whistle blows.”
Jevon Carter led West Virginia (6-1) with 11 points and Nathan Adrian had 10.
Darius Thompson scored 14 points to lead Virginia (7-1), but the Cavaliers never got into any kind of rhythm offensively. After forcing 20 turnovers against Ohio State on Wednesday, they forced just eight against West Virginia and were outscored off turnovers 18-5.
Ahmad’s 3-pointer was just the fourth of the game for West Virginia in 15 tries, but Tarik Phillip followed a miss by Virginia with an inside basket, making it 60-55, and Virginia ran out of time as the Mountaineers finished 16 for 19 from the free throw line.
West Virginia: Virginia was just the third major program the Mountaineers have faced this season – they drubbed Illinois and lost to Temple – and none of their next five opponents are daunting, but there’s enough experience and toughness built into their pressing style that staying healthy is Job One before Big 12 play. ”It’s not just stealing the ball,” coach Bob Huggins said of the press. ”It’s a cumulative effect of making them work, not being able to walk the ball up the floor and play at their pace. We want them to play at our pace.”
Virginia: Winning is always a priority, but so is having options, and coach Tony Bennett was trying to get both accomplished late in the game when he had freshman guard Ty Jerome on the court for a long stretch. Jerome, like fellow freshman Kyle Guy, was a prolific scorer in high school and with the Cavaliers sure to scratch for points at times this season, getting all the younger options up to speed and battle tested will be key for the Cavaliers before ACC play commences. Bennett said Jerome’s ball-handling ability made having him on the court important.
The Mountaineers won despite losing Daxter Miles Jr., who was leading all scorers with 7 points, to a flagrant foul ejection with 2:42 left in the first half. He hit Isaiah Wilkins across the face, but Wilkins missed both free throws. The Cavaliers were just 7 of 13 from the free throw line.
HE SAID IT
”This is obviously not the end of the world, not the end of the year. You just learn from this, grow from this.” – Bennett.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers go back into the stat-padding portion of their schedule as they face Western Carolina in Charleston, West Virginia before consecutive home games against VMI, Missouri-Kansas City, Radford and Northern Kentucky.
Virginia: The Cavaliers wrap up a four-game home stand with games against East Carolina and Robert Morris before heading west to play at California.