NEWARK, N.J. - If Bob Huggins were to ask for an instructional lowlights video to show his players, pointing out each of the problem areas West Virginia's basketball team has encountered throughout the first 14 games of the season, it would not take a master videographer to compile it.
Just run off copies of most of Friday night's 67-48 loss to Seton Hall at the Prudential Center.
Taking plays off on defense? The Pirates scored some laughably easy inside baskets, including not one but two rim-rattling dunks by a 6-foot-11 reserve, Aaron Gerimapoor, who Seton Hall's own pregame notes claim had a career effort two nights earlier when he scored all of three points in a 26-point loss at Syracuse.
"We were awful,'' Huggins said. "When we get screened it's like we ran into a brick wall.''
Free throw woes? At one point near the end of the first half the team that ranks dead last in the Big East in foul shooting went to the free throw line on four straight possessions. The Mountaineers managed three points.
There were so many defensive deficiencies that Huggins at one point just gave up and went to a 2-3 zone. Perhaps that could have been overcome had the Mountaineers not shot less than 30 percent in the first half and 32.1 percent for the game. And perhaps both might have been mitigated by just playing cleanly. But WVU didn't, committing 10 first-half turnovers and 17 overall.
But of all the problems, it seemed offense was the worst. The Mountaineers scored just 48 points and, after somehow making a game of it late, failed to score at all over the final 6:46.
"We don't pass the ball,'' forward Deniz Kilicli said. "And then they just packed it in because we couldn't shoot.''
The result was a disappointing loss that came on the heels of a 14-point win over Villanova two nights earlier.
Kevin Jones had 15 points, but ended the game with a turned ankle. Truck Bryant scored 11 for the Mountaineers, but the same guy who scored a career-high 34 points against Villanova went 3-for-16 from the floor against the Pirates.
Fuquan Edwin, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, led Seton Hall with 19 points. Herb Pope, who had an awful game at Syracuse when the Orange blocked 15 shots, scored 13 points and had six blocks. Pope scored nine of the Pirates' 13 points in one stretch of the first half when the they took the lead for good.
Jordan Theodore also scored 18 for the Pirates.
Still, as poorly as West Virginia played, the Mountaineers somehow managed to make things interesting as the game wore on. After trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half and by 18 with four minutes gone in the second half, West Virginia incredibly made it a two-possession game with 61/2 minutes to play. Some hot shooting helped when Bryant, Jones and Gary Brown all made 3-pointers and when Kilicli scored on a post-move dunk and Browne dropped in a jump shot, it was suddenly 54-48.
But that was as close as the Mountaineers would get. Browne's jumper was, amazingly, the last points the Mountaineers would score and the Pirates steadily pulled away with the game's final 13 points.
"We weren't mentally tough enough to stay in what we were supposed to do,'' Huggins said. "They did a good job and made some adjustments. But then we made a run and got back in the game and we got away from what we were doing.
"When we passed the ball in the second half we got some good things. Dribbling the ball's fine if you're going somewhere. But we're not going anywhere.''
WVU's problems were varied, though. There were the defensive breakdowns, the offensive woes and the 17 turnovers.
"We turned it over 17 times against a 2-3 zone,'' Huggins said. "How do you turn it over 17 times against a 2-3 zone?''
The loss put a sour ending on an otherwise pretty solid month of December by the Mountaineers (10-4, 1-1 Big East). After a loss to now-No. 15 Mississippi State, West Virginia won six of seven, including victories over Kansas State, Miami and Villanova. The only loss in that stretch was in overtime to No. 6 Baylor.
Of course, Seton Hall had a pretty good month, too. The Pirates (12-2, 1-1) suffered only that loss to top-ranked Syracuse.
West Virginia has the rest of the weekend off and returns to action Wednesday back in New Jersey against Rutgers. That 7 p.m. game is the same night as when the school's football team plays Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.
Seton Hall 67, West Virginia 48
West Virginia (10-4)
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