FORT WORTH, Texas - All of a sudden, one of the worst shooting teams in America isn't, well, one of the worst shooting teams in America.
OK, so it's not exactly one of the best, but it's doing a pretty good imitation.
On Saturday here in front of a smallish crowd (announced as 5,192, but not) at Daniel-Meyer Arena, West Virginia shot 51.2 percent from the floor. It was no hot-streak fluke, either. The Mountaineers shot 52.6 percent in the first half and 50 in the second in beating TCU 63-50.
Two games ago, also on the road in Texas, WVU shot 56.5 percent against Texas Tech. In between the Mountaineers made 46.2 percent against Texas. And despite a 4-for-13 performance against the Longhorns, West Virginia is still a combined 21 for 41 (51.2 percent) on 3-pointers during that time.
All this from a team that only a week or so was ranked 322nd in the country in 3-point shooting and only slightly better in overall field goal percentage.
"I think we're just playing better,'' said sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds, who has bounced back from a scoreless game at Texas Tech last week to average 13 over the last two. "When you're playing well and guarding well and all those other things, it takes a little bit of pressure off the shooting.''
The Mountaineers still ranked just No. 290 (out of 347 teams) in overall shooting percentage going into Saturday and had moved up to just No. 265 in 3-point percentage. But if the improved shooting can continue, the numbers won't matter.
Aaric Murray managed to render himself almost completely irrelevant Saturday, and it took him only 27 seconds.
That's how long Murray was on the floor in the first half before he picked up two fouls and went back to the bench. He wouldn't return until well into the second half.
When he did, though, he was a force.
Playing just 13 minutes, most of it at the end, Murray had seven points, six rebounds, a 3-pointer, a steal and a block. He finished with four fouls and might have fouled out had the officials not been kind to him and not charged him with a foul after a video review to see if he'd thrown an elbow.
That he managed to stay on the floor was one of the big differences for West Virginia.
"He only had seven points and six rebounds, but I thought he was great down the stretch,'' said coach Bob Huggins, who won while coaching the 1,000th game of his career. "I thought Deniz [Kilicli] was good, too.''