Bob Huggins had exhausted his options.
Switching between the 1-3-1 zone defense after mixing in some pressure to doubling, pushing up and stringing out ball screens in an attempt to halt Missouri on the offensive end.
So, Huggins went back to the basics and during a timeout, he let his team know as well.
“I guess we are what we are, let’s just go get them,” Huggins said. “Let’s just go be us, let’s just go get them and let the chips fall where they do. Let’s just do what we do.”
What they do is pressure and Huggins unleashed the dogs in the second half, as the Mountaineers were relentless on the defensive end with a swarming non-stop attack.
The Tigers had only 11 turnovers through the first 32 minutes of the game handling the relentless waves of pressure while building a 16-point advantage in the process.
But Missouri finished the final eight minutes with nine critical giveaways including seven in a nine possession stretch.
Missouri would see its 16-point lead evaporate, as the Mountaineers would continue to attack while the Tigers seemingly pulled back putting them in a precarious situation.
Missouri made only one basket over nearly the final six minutes of the game allowing West Virginia to engineer the comeback.
“They kind of pulled back and got a little conservative and that’s a bad thing to do against pressure because it keeps coming at you,” Huggins said. “Then you get afraid to make a mistake and we just made some plays.”
The Press Virginia mentality has been the trademark of this team over the past couple seasons and there were some concerns if it was going to be the norm this year as well. Imagine going from the slow pace of trying to pick apart the 1-3-1 to the frenetic up and down, non-stop play against the press.
That is what this West Virginia team can give you and while Missouri held serve against the Mountaineers pressure defense for most of the game, how it keeps coming in waves can eventually get to you. And get to them, it certainly did as Missouri’s Jordan Barnett can testify to.
“We had some key turnovers and they just got all the momentum. Then we could never stop the bleeding and it just kept getting worse,” he said while simply calling the pressure unique.
All in all, West Virginia turned those 20 turnovers into 25 points – marks that helped ease the blow of losing the battle on the glass by 16.
Those numbers must improve as the schedule inevitably gets tougher, while the Mountaineers also have to take care of business on the offensive end.
“That’s what we do. If we are going to be successful we have to get a whole lot better at that,” Huggins said. “That has to be the norm and not something we cheer about.”