After a rough and tumble stretch for West Virginia basketball, with the squad experiencing both crushing heartbreaks and blowout losses, the Mountaineers rebounded for their first win in nearly two weeks with a 71-50 victory over TCU Wednesday night in Morgantown.
While the Mountaineers ultimately pulled off the victory, the game started out sloppy for both squads with TCU taking a 6-4 lead into the first media timeout. The Mountaineers opened the game with a slew of missed opportunities in the paint, going 1-5 from the field to open the contest with all five attempts coming from layups.
For TCU, however, it was not much better. The Horned Frogs scored their first six points off back-to-back threes from Butler-Lind and Anderson, but beyond those two baskets seemingly air-balled every other shot attempt in the four minute span.
Things started to click for the Mountaineers coming out of the timeout with Dominique Rutledge's appearance in the lineup. Replacing Kilicli in the paint, Rutledge made his presence felt early on, soaring over two TCU defenders to grab an off-target Jabarie Hinds three. The senior would go up strong with the putback to put the Mountaineers to within two.
From here, West Virginia would go on both an offensive and defensive tear, speeding up the tempo with a fast-break game and pressuring the Horned Frogs into three-consecutive steals. The Mountaineers would connect on two of those three "gimmie" possessions to take a 15-11 lead into the media timeout.
After laying sparingly throughout the season, Aaron Brown would make his presence felt, connecting with mid-range jumpers on back-to-back possessions to extend West Virginia's lead.
The Mountaineers also saw flashes of brilliance from Aaric Murray upon his entrance in the game. The junior transfer from LaSalle proved to be the difference West Virginia needed in the paint midway through the first half, putting up a quick six points and two blocks to push the Mountaineer's lead to seven, 22-15.
However, Horned Frogs would not roll over entirely in Morgantown. A pair of crossover layups from Connell Crossland, coupled with strong defensive pressure on the Mountaineers, kept TCU within striking distance through the latter portion of the first half.
But that good mojo for the Horned Frogs would be short lived thanks to a highlight-worthy sequence from Kilicli. Following a big three pointer from Hinds, pushing West Virginia's lead into double-digits, the big back from Turkey picked the pocket of TCU's Charles Hill Jr. in the front court.
From there, Kilicli did his best Shaquille O'Neal impression, rumbling down the court for the uncontested one-handed slam.
The Kilicli dunk would end the half on a positive note for the Mountaineers, as a 12-4 run pushed the home squad to a 35-22 halftime lead.
It was a very uneventful opening to the second half for both squads, with the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs exchanging a series of layups and sloppy possessions en route to the first media timeout.
Eron Harris attempted to break the monotony of free throws and missed layups, sneaking away from his defender in the corner for a wide-open three; extending the lead 43-26. The freshman trifecta continued to pad his stats as well, giving Harris a team-high 11 points with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Harris' three seemingly provided the Mountaineers a much-needed offensive spark to push their lead into almost insurmountable territory. Coming out of the media timeout, another Mountaineer would find success from beyond the arc, with Hinds nailing a step-back three-point jumper, his second of the game, to give West Virginia a 45-28 lead.
Another impressive offensive attack by Harris, penetrating the lane for a smooth floater, pushed West Virginia's lead to 20 - 48-28 - with 13 minutes remaining, before TCU would spark a mini-run.
The Horned Frogs would answer West Virginia's three-point success with a trifecta of their own from Garlon Green. The three would spark a successful 13-4 stretch for TCU, closing the gap to as little as 10 points with 8:00 minutes remaining.
But the spark would die off for the Horned Frogs coming out of the media timeout. Aggressive play by the Mountaineers in the interior pushed their lead back to 16 before TCU was forced to call a timeout.
The Mountaineers occasionally showcased tonight what Coach Bob Huggins' offense can produce when ran correctly. One such demonstration occurred when Kevin Noreen found a cutting Juwan Staten down the lane for an easy layup. On that particular series, the Mountaineers appeared more comfortable running Huggins' motion offense, resulting in Staten sneaking his was past the defender for an easy two.
West Virginia would continue to extend their lead, utilizing both an interior advantage and a personnel mismatch to push ahead by 20 points with two minutes remaining. A three point jumper by Terry Henderson, appearing in his first contest after suffering a minor injury in practice two weeks ago, extended the Mountaineer's lead, 66-45.
Harris would proceed to tack on another three of his own, further padding his stats on an impressive night for the freshman, before the final gun went off.
Final score: West Virginia, 71 TCU, 50.
The Mountaineers were led in scoring by Eron Harris, topping the box score for the second-straight game with 19 points. Harris was joined in double figures by Jabarie Hinds, contributing 10 points to the evening.
Rounding out the notables from Wednesday's game was Deniz Kilicli with 11 points, 8 rebounds; Aaric Murray with eight points; Juwan Staten and Aaron Brown with six each; and Dominique Rutledge and Terry Henderson with four points each.
The Mountaineers will be back in action Saturday as the travel to Stillwater, OK to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Tip off is at 1:30pm.