No. 15 TCU, surging West Virginia battle for 2nd time in as many weeks
Familiarity will not be a problem when No. 15 TCU looks to get back on track against surging West Virginia on Tuesday in a return to Big 12 Conference play in Fort Worth, Texas.
The teams, who played on Jan. 18 in Morgantown, W.Va., continue the conference grind after participating in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday, which produced mixed results. The Horned Frogs head home after an 81-74 loss in overtime at Mississippi State while West Virginia waylaid 15th-ranked Auburn 80-77 at home.
TCU (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) went into Saturday’s game without starting center Eddie Lampkin Jr. (ankle injury) and reserve guard Rondel Walker (illness) and then lost Mike Miles Jr., the preseason conference player of the year, to a knee injury four minutes into the contest.
“No excuses,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said afterward. “Like I told my guys, you have to find a way. … It didn’t go our way. We came in with some guys down but you have to be prepared. That happens to everybody and you have to find a way to get it done.”
Lampkin’s availability for Monday’s game is yet to be determined. Miles sustained a hyperextension and received an MRI on Sunday morning, with 247Sports reporting that results came back clean.
The Horned Frogs trailed by two points with 55 seconds to play until Emanuel Miller hit a bucket to tie the game at 66-66 with 32 seconds remaining. TCU’s defense held on to send the game to overtime, but an early 8-0 run by Mississippi State in the extra period proved too much for the Horned Frogs to overcome.
Damion Baugh finished with a team-high 19 points for TCU. Miller scored all 13 of his points in the second half, Shahada Wells and JaKobe Coles had 12 points apiece and Chuck O’Bannon Jr. added 10.
The setback came after back-to-back wins for the Horned Frogs and three victories in their past four outings, with the outlier being a 74-65 loss at West Virginia.
The Mountaineers head to Fort Worth after winning their third game in their past four outings, this one in impressive fashion while collecting their second victory over a top-15 team in a span of 10 days.
“We’re getting better,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We have a lot of guys that haven’t played in a lot of these games. We had some guys that quite frankly didn’t come out with the same energy in the second half.”
West Virginia (13-8, 2-6) used a career-high 31 points from Erik Stevenson in a game that came down to the final seconds and a missed 3-pointer by Auburn. Jimmy Bell Jr. added 15 points for the Mountaineers in the victory.
The Mountaineers led throughout but saw their 16-point halftime lead evaporate to a point with 5:16 left. The lead was also one at both 3:59 and 2:17 to play before Stevenson poured in his seventh 3-pointer from the wing to make it a four-point game with 2:03 left.
West Virginia’s advantage grew to six points on two James Okonkwo free throws but missed free throws down the stretch kept the door open for Auburn.
“When you have an opportunity to step on somebody’s throat so to speak, you do that,” Huggins added. “We didn’t do that.”
–Field Level Media