Home cooked: Coliseum no cure as disastrous collapse continues

A stamp costs 55 cents.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins might want to dig in his pockets for some change, because his Mountaineers appear to be fully committed to mailing this season in https://youtu.be/QiZdY9rw-uo.

A beleaguered West Virginia team returned home on Saturday. Fans believed (hoped?) that an arrival to the friendly confines of the WVU Coliseum would snap the Mountaineers out of their February malaise that resulted in five losses in their last six games.

It did no such thing.

Oklahoma (18-11, 8-8 Big 12) embarrassed the Mountaineers, 73-62, on Saturday. A WVU contingent that arrived at the Coliseum desperate but hopeful departed in depressed resignation.

There are two regular-season games left to play, plus the Big 12 Tournament and whatever post-season tournament invites the Mountaineers (19-10, 7-9). In what was unthinkable even a week ago, that tournament is as likely to be the NIT as the NCAA.

Maybe more so.

Glass half-full fans (or one-tenth full might be more accurate here) will point to the frantic effort the Mountaineers gave in the last six minutes. WVU cut a 20-plus point Sooners lead to eight with two minutes left.

But that is a case of way too little, way too late.

West Virginia legend Rod Thorn, who had his number 44 retired on Saturday, implored the Mountaineers during the halftime ceremony.

“We need to play a great second half,” Thorn told the crowd.

His alma mater didn’t take heed.

This game was lost in the first five to 10 minutes of that second half. Oklahoma turned a four-point halftime lead into more than 20 points during that stretch.

One team opened the second half with the energy one would expect from a home team in search of a desperately needed win. That team wasn’t West Virginia.

The Mountaineers offense looked discombobulated (as it has for a month). WVU was awful in every aspect of shooting: Field goals (24-for 70, 34.3 percent); foul shots (10-for-19, 52.6 percent); and 3-point shooting (4-for-25, 16 percent). Those numbers are in line with what the Mountaineers have shot during this six losses in seven games stretch.

Their defense had numerous lapses that resulted in far too many open shots (as it has for a month). Oklahoma lit up the Mountaineers defense, hitting 26-for-53 from the field (49.1 percent). That, too, is about in line for what the Mountaineers have allowed during this six losses in seven games stretch.

Oklahoma had four players – Kristian Doolittle (19 points) Brady Manek (15), Austin Reaves (13) and Jamal Bieniemy (12) – in double figures. The Mountaineers had one – Miles McBride (13).

The awful shooting is frustrating, but this hasn’t been a good shooting team all season. It’s the defensive collapse that is most troublesome. Statistically, the Mountaineers have gone from one of the best defensive teams in the country to one of the worst.

Shooting can run hot and cold. Defense does not. This speaks to deeper internal problems of effort and focus, which Huggins has diagnosed but failed to fix.

“In my all years, I haven’t gone through a year like a year ago and the end of this year,” Huggins said. “I’ve never gone through it.”

The Mountaineers have ANOTHER chance to try salvage this late-season disaster on Tuesday when they travel to Iowa State. They close the regular season at home against No. 2 Baylor on March 7.

St. Jude  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jude_the_Apostle would struggle to find hope for another victory this season.

This team looks nothing like the one that played so well and so hard for the first two-thirds of the season. This team looks troublingly similar to the 2018-19 train wreck of a squad. At least last year’s team got better late in the season.

This year’s West Virginia team is instead doing its best “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” impersonation.