When West Virginia’s offense clicks like it did for much of Saturday’s 86-51 trouncing of Texas, it typically finds itself in the win column.
That’s not to say the Mountaineers need to shoot 66 percent from the field and 73 percent from long range like they did in the second half. Those numbers are rarely even reached by the NBA’s elite.
But an efficient offense that plays smart, commits few turnovers and makes shots is an added bonus to a program that prides itself on great defense.
WVU was once the No. 2 team in the country not too long ago, which was its highest ranking since Jerry West played in the blue and gold back in 1959. It seemed like the team was on top of the world.
However, the offense faltered, especially in the second half of games against Texas Tech and Kansas. In both games, WVU held double-digit leads at one point or another and was up at halftime --- 38-31 at Texas Tech and 41-28 at Kansas.
"We probably weren’t very comfortable being No. 2 in the country," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins.
Then the collapses started. Texas Tech outscored WVU 41-33 in the second half as the Mountaineers finished with a 39 percent mark from the field and 13 turnovers, giving the ball away the same amount of times as the Red Raiders.
Senior guard Jevon Carter (28) and junior forward Esa Ahmad (18) were the only WVU players to reach double-figures in the game. The No. 3 scorer: sophomore forward Wesley Harris, who finished with eight points.
Against Kansas, WVU led by as many as 16 points before another collapse in the second half. After halftime, it shot just 10-of-28 from the field (36 percent) and 1-of-13 from long range (eight percent) before finishing with a 5-of-27 clip from 3 for the game, also committing 11 of its 16 turnovers during that span.
Things changed against Texas Tech, and they needed to. The offense was dialed in. It was focused and played smart. It rarely wasted possessions.
The Mountaineers committed just 10 turnovers, fewer than the 11 they compiled in the second half alone in the loss to Kansas. They shot 46 percent from the field, 52 percent from deep and a perfect 100 percent at the free throw line.
Add in a balanced offense featuring four different double-digit scorers - Carter (22), redshirt sophomore guard Beetle Bolden (19), senior guard Daxter Miles (15) and sophomore forward Sagaba Konate (10).
"We were patient," Ahmad said. "We were waiting until guys got to open spots. We were hitting guys early and late. That was big for us."
Bolden’s performance was perhaps one of the most important pieces of the afternoon. He converted five of his six attempts at the three-point line and hit nearly every shot he took despite straining his groin and heading back to the locker room in the first half.
"It was huge," said WVU redshirt sophomore forward Logan Routt. "I think he may have hurt his groin and then he came back in and played well, especially him scoring off the bench, hitting 3s. He’s the best shooter on our team by far. Anytime he’s scoring the ball well, I think we’re having a good day."
WVU will not need to succeed quite like it did in the second half against Texas, but if it can play smart on offense and be efficient, it will usually defeat most opponents it comes across the rest of the way, starting with Monday’s affair at TCU.
"It’s a big boost," Ahmad said. "Going in and facing a good team like TCU, we need guys to hit shots. I need to hit shots."