Browne leads No. 17 West Virginia to 78-67 win over TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) West Virginia coach Bob Huggins likened his team's situation on Saturday to that of a golf scramble.
''We just try to play the best shot,'' he said about his No. 17 Mountaineers, ''and the guy who's playing well that day plays more minutes.''
Luckily for WVU, with leading scorer Juwan Staten watching from the bench with an illness, senior Gary Browne got a hot hand late and sparked West Virginia to a 78-67 win over TCU in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
''Gary came in and was terrific,'' Huggins said.
West Virginia's all-around aggressiveness helped it shake off a pesky and previously-unbeaten Horned Frogs team. The Mountaineers had seven and-one tries in the game, including six in the second half, and they converted five of them. Defensively, they also pressed the Frogs into 18 turnovers in the game and finished with 12 steals.
To top it off, Browne scored a season-high 16 points all in the final 11 minutes to help the Mountaineers finally take control of the game.
''They wore us down more than anything,'' TCU guard Trey Ziegler said. ''When it's 40 minutes straight - a lot of teams don't press straight 40 minutes.''
Devin Williams scored 14 for West Virginia (13-1, 1-0 Big 12) and Jaysean Paige added 10 points as the Mountaineers won their sixth-straight game.
TCU's longest winning streak since the 1997-98 season ended at 13 games. Kyan Anderson led the Frogs with 19 points, Ziegler scored 17 and Brandon Parrish added 11 for TCU (13-1, 0-1). Not only were the Frogs going for their 14th-straight win but they were also trying for their first conference win since the 2012-2013 season.
Up 32-30, TCU scored the first five points of the second half, then West Virginia's press really started troubling the Frogs. Williams score a three-point play for WVU, then Jonathan Holton stole the inbounds pass from TCU's Chris Washburn and layed it in for another three-point play for West Virginia. Daxter Miles' layup with 17:12 to play gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the game, 38-37.
West Virginia went on an 8-0 run in a 1:28 stretch starting at the 7:28 mark of the second half to take a 64-54 lead. In the run, Williams rebounded a Browne free throw miss and turned it into a three-point play. The Frogs couldn't get closer than five points the rest of the way.
''We had a little bit better ball pressure,'' Huggins said. ''It's kind of the cumulative effect - it wears on you.''
TCU controlled the game from the get-go, but Nathan Adrian's three-point play with 9:25 to play broke West Virginia's nearly 4 1/2 minute field-goal drought and brought the Mountaineers to within 12-10.
A bench warning for West Virginia fired up the TCU crowd, and Anderson brought them to their feet with a sweet drive to the basket where he faked a pass then scored on a finger roll that prompted Huggins to take a 30-second timeout. Karviar Shepherd scored on a wide-open layup out of the timeout for a 17-10 TCU lead with 8:24 to go.
A 3-point play for Shepherd gave TCU its largest lead of the game, 22-12. West Virginia ended the half on a 9-4 run, and Jevon Carter's buzzer-beating long jumper cut TCU's lead to 32-30 at halftime.
TCU: Trey Ziegler scored a season-high 17 points by hitting 4 of 6 field goals and nine of 12 free throws.
West Virginia: Browne's 16 points were one shy of his career-high 17 scored against Eastern Kentucky in December of 2012.
DOESN'T SUIT HIM WELL
Huggins started the game wearing a suit, vest and tie but wound up changing into his trademark pullover windbreaker to start the second half. After the game, he explained his two-part reasoning: ''I'm not a banker, I'm a ball coach,'' he said. ''This is kind of how ball coaches coach. And I was sweating, I was just soaking wet.''
TCU coach Trent Johnson warned his team before the game that with Staten out due to an illness, the game ''just got a lot tougher.'' That's because Johnson knew the Mountaineers were deep and talented. ''Bob's made comments twice that he likes this team, and Bob doesn't like a lot of people and a lot of things, so for him to say that he likes this team - they're not a one-man show,'' Johnson said.
TCU plays at Kansas State on Wednesday.
West Virginia plays at Texas Tech on Monday.