WVU drops two of three in Florida
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 01:11
The West Virginia men’s basketball team lost two of three games to claim fourth place in the 2012 Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., during the Thanksgiving holiday break.
The Mountaineers (1-3) fell to Oklahoma (4-1) 77-70 in the consolation game Sunday afternoon at the HP Field House, after drubbing Marist 87-44 in the opening round and falling to Davidson 63-60 in the semifinals of the eight-team tournament.
"We can’t continue to blow opportunities," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins after falling to Oklahoma Sunday. "We’ve worked really hard on trying to play a little faster and get some easy baskets. But we haven’t rebounded as well as we need to, and we just have to make some shots."
Sophomore guard Juwan Staten scored a team-high 15 points for West Virginia against the Sooners while sophomore point guard Gary Brown and junior forward Deniz Kilicli each netted 13 in the losing effort.
Oklahoma starting junior forward Amath M’Baye scored a game-high 19 points, and freshman guard Je’lon Hornbeak added 14.
West Virginia attempted just one more shot than Oklahoma in the rare nonconference meeting between the two new conference foes Sunday afternoon but only made 36 percent of its field goals, compared to the Sooners, who shot 47 percent from the field. In fact, Oklahoma made exactly 50 percent of their field goal attempts on 17 of 34 shooting in the first half.
"We didn’t do a bad job in the second half defensively," Huggins said. "But we were awful in the first half. It was awful. That’s inexcusable."
The Mountaineers actually had a chance to top Davidson in the semifinals to advance to the championship game and avenge an ugly loss they suffered in their season opener at the hands of No. 17 Gonzaga, but foul trouble, poor free throw shooting and a simple inability to put the ball in the basket ultimately cost West Virginia against the Wildcats Friday.
West Virginia had actually built an eight point lead with just around three minutes remaining in the first half, but the Mountaineers proceeded to miss 15 of their next 16 shots while Davidson used a 17-2 run during that same stretch to push their lead to as much as 11 with just about eight minutes remaining in the game.
The Mountaineers eventually cut the margin to 61-60 with just 13.6 seconds to go in the game, but two clutch free throws by Nik Cochran pushed the lead back to three, and West Virginia came up empty on its final possession when Staten’s potential game-tying three clanked off the rim as time expired.
Staten netted a team-high 15 in the loss to Davidson while Browne chipped in 11 off the bench.
Junior guard Chris Czerapowicz led the Wildcats with 15 points and nine rebounds. Forward De’Mon Brooks, another junior, added 12 for Davidson (3-3), who fell 81-67 to unbeaten Gonzaga (6-0) in the championship game Sunday night.
In the opening round of the 2012 Old Spice Classic Thanksgiving day, West Virginia had little trouble dispatching Marist (2-4), as the Mountaineers built a 51-19 advantage by the end of the first period by making 56 percent of their shot attempts in the first half.
West Virginia exploited a balanced offensive attack, and five players reached double figures for the afternoon. Freshman guards Eron Harris and Terry Henderson led the way off the bench for the Mountaineers while
netting 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds was the only starter to reach double figures with 11 while junior center Aaric Murray and senior guard Matt Humphrey each pitched in 10 points off the bench.
Staten proved to be the Mountaineers’ best scorer throughout the three Old Spice Classic games, as he tallied 36 points, with 13 of 28 shooting. Browne added 30, and Kilicli pitched in 29 points throughout the three contests.
As a team, West Virginia shot just below 44 percent for the tournament and outscored its three opponents 217-184, but in the end, the team just couldn’t take advantage of chances to pick up wins and keep advancing.
"It’s not like it’s an isolated situation," Huggins said. "We just keep doing the same things. You can score 2 on 1 in Bitty Basketball, and we didn’t three times."
"We must not have worked enough. We just have to do a better job of taking care of opportunities."