Ahmad, Miles lead No. 7 WVU past TCU

By Ryan Decker, Originally published for West Virginia Illustrated 

MORGANTOWN – No. 7 West Virginia (13-2, 2-1) looked to clean up some mistakes Saturday afternoon from its last game, including forcing more turnovers and being more productive at the free throw line.

After forcing just 13 turnovers in the loss Tuesday night in Lubbock, Press Virginia surpassed that total with nearly nine minutes left in the second half in their game today against Texas Christian University (12-3, 1-2).

Correcting the mistakes from last time out, along with big scoring days from Esa Ahmad and Daxter Miles Jr., led WVU to a 82-70 win over TCU in the team’s Big 12 home opener.

“I want (Miles and Carter), Esa, when they have open shots I want them to shoot it,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said.

Miles began heating up midway through the first half, tallying eight straight points for the Mountaineers via a pair of 3 pointers and a putback dunk over a larger TCU would-be rebounder.

Miles’ game-high 22 total points mark the fifth time this year he’s tallied double figures.

“I got a text from Dax (last night). He’s texting me saying I got to go get shots. I got to go get shots. I thought he’d have a pretty good game.” – Bob Higgins

TCU committed 11 turnovers in the first half, six of which game on traveling violations as the Horned Frogs struggled at times to keep their pivot foot or get a pass off in time. It was an ill-advised pass, though, that Tarik Phillip intercepted, and went coast to coast for a fast break layup that led to Jamie Dixon calling a timeout trailing 26-18.

Ahmad also found success scoring inside, scoring on a pair of putbacks in the opening half and another in the second en route to 16 points for the game.

West Virginia led 39-28 at halftime with Ahmad and Miles leading the way.

A hot start to the second half brought TCU back to within easy striking distance. The Horned Frogs scored nine of the first 11 points of the second half, cutting the Mountaineers’ lead down to four.

WVU responded, quickly though, scoring three-straight baskets including a pull-up jump shot by Miles at the free throw line to take the advantage back to 10 points.

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Brandon Watkins and Vladimir Brodziansky battle for the opening tipoff at the start of Saturday’s game between TCU and West Virginia in the Coliseum.   Photo by Ryan Decker 

Vladimir Brodziansky kept the Horned Frogs’ deficit from getting out of hand, scoring 12 of his total 14 points in the second half, and assisting on a Michael Williams three ball that once again brought TCU to within four points.

A free throw by Desmond bane midway through the second tied the game at 57 points apiece, equaling the score for the first time since the 12:08 mark in the opening half.

West Virginia responded with five straight points, three coming on a converted and-one opportunity by Sagaba Konate.

That was Dixon’s squad’s best chance to take the lead, something the Horned Frogs didn’t claim once in the entire game.

Made 3 pointers on back-to-back possessions by Jevon Carter extended the lead to eight for the Mountaineers. Another made shot from beyond the arch by Carter, followed by a tip in by Sagaba Konate gave WVU all the breathing room it needed with 2:24 remaining, leading by eleven.

“We’re going to need to do that sometimes,” Miles said about continuing to ward off TCU’s runs at the lead. “The Big 12 is a tough league. Every night is going to be a good game.”

Konate was one of four Mountaineers to finish the game in double figures, scoring 13 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in just 15 minutes on the floor.

“Sags is really good. He just continues to get better and better,” Huggins said. “I thought the two blocks he made – the one in particular – I thought really got us going, got the crowd back into the game. That was a big time block.

“That was up there.”

Alex Robinson led the Horned Frogs in scoring with 17 points.

Huggins did mention that big men Bradon Watkins and Elijah Macon are both continuing to battle injuries. Watkins’ ankle limited him in practice through the week, and Macon’s time on the court has gone down on account of a knee injury.

West Virginia returns to action Tuesday at home against the Baylor Bears, who will likely be the No. 1 ranked team in the country.

 

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