MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — By his own admission, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins' team defense has been atrocious for three games.
The Mountaineers found themselves last in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage and ninth (of 10 teams) in scoring defense.
Enter Texas Christian.
WVU's struggles continued in a closely contested first half, but the Mountaineers turned up their defensive effort in the second to knock off TCU 81-59 on Saturday.
"They're getting the idea," Huggins said of his players. "We've lost some offense, but we guarded today. We did a so-much better job. They shot 50 percent the first half and 29 percent the second half. We guarded better."
The Mountaineers (16-13, 8-8 Big 12) led only 39-36 at halftime, but went on a 25-4 run starting early in the second to pull completely away from the Horned Frogs at 69-44 with 6:49 left.
WVU allowed just eight field goals by the Horned Frogs in the second half. It was the least amount of field goals allowed by WVU during a Big 12 half. It also was a season-low point production (59) in the Big 12 against the Mountaineers.
Juwan Staten, the Big 12's second-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, credited the defensive improvement in the second half to Huggins.
"Our intensity level just wasn't as high as it needed to be for as high as the stakes were in this game," Staten said. "At halftime, coach just got us to us, gave us a little piece of reality. Told us what we needed to do if we had any hopes of playing in the postseason. And we just came out in the second half with a different mentality."
Staten has scored 14 or more points in 21 straight games and finished with 17 points, five assists and four rebounds. Eron Harris, who entered the game third in the Big 12 averaging 18 points, reached his season average to lead the Mountaineers.