MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Redshirt freshman Jalen Bridges set seasons highs with 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 6 West Virginia to a 76-67 victory over TCU on Thursday night.
The Mountaineers (18-7, 11-5 Big 12) bounced back from an overtime loss to No. 3 Baylor on Tuesday, sweeping the regular-season series from TCU.
Bridges has vastly improved since the start of the season, when he failed to score in his first four games and went 10 games until his first double-digit performance with 19 points.
“As this season has went on I’ve gotten way more comfortable,” Bridges said. “I’m taking what comes to me and I’m not really trying to force nothing. I just try to do everything I possibly can to help my team win. I don’t care what it is.”
Bridges was 5 of 8 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and went 8 of 9 from the free-throw line against TCU. Six of his rebounds came on the offensive end.
“I don’t know that he has a ceiling,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “He’s a guy that has good feet. He can pass the ball. The great thing about JB is that JB does the things that you ask him to do. He really tries to excel at the things that you ask him to.”
Behind 12 early points from Bridges, West Virginia built a 16-point lead in the first half and coasted down the stretch.
“Somehow we turn Bridges into an all-American each game we play him,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.
TCU’s Jaedon LeDee scored nine points over a four-minute stretch, RJ Nembhard and Mike Miles hit 3-pointers, and Taryn Todd’s driving layup pulled the Horned Frogs within 53-46 with 7:36 remaining. But they got no closer.
“We’ve got to get better defensively,” Dixon said. “We know that. We keep saying that. It’s getting a little late in the season to keep saying it.”
West Virginia’s Derek Culver, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds in last week’s win over the Horned Frogs, scored 17 points Thursday after being held without a field goal against Baylor. Sean McNeil added 14 points for the Mountaineers.
LeDee finished with a season-high 18 points for the Horned Frogs (12-12, 5-10). Miles added 15 points and Kevin Samuel scored 12. Nembhard, TCU’s leading scorer, fouled out with five points, ending his streak of 20 straight games in double figures.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers had lost three of their previous four games at home. They can finish in second place in the conference, just ahead of No. 13 Kansas, with a win in the regular-season finale Saturday.
TCU: The Horned Frogs couldn’t overcome a terrible start. TCU went more than nine minutes between field goals in the first half, shot 18% (4 of 22) from the floor in the first half and 38% for the game. They went 1-2 in three road games over six days.
TCU outscored West Virginia 49-44 in the second half.
“In the locker room afterward, I made it very clear I was encouraged by what we did coming back in the second half,” Dixon said. “We came together. Our offense was stagnant, it wasn’t working in the first half. We were frustrated. It caused some of our defensive breakdowns because of the turnovers. But we responded. We played together.”
ALMOST TO 900
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins earned his 899th career win, just behind North Carolina’s Roy Williams at 900. Bob Knight is next on the list at 902 career victories.
“I feel like it will be pretty special that I will get to be there with him when he gets that,” Culver said.
TCU hosts No. 15 Texas on Sunday.
West Virginia hosts No. 17 Oklahoma State on Saturday.
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