WVU Basketball Weekend Recap and Analysis

It was a great weekend to be a Mountaineer, wherever you were. West Virginia walked away with two victories that included a 62-50 win over North Texas and an 87-71 win over #19 Richmond. It was a tale of two different games. The first was exactly what you would expect for a 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon game that was scheduled three days prior. The Mountaineers came out sloppy and unprepared. Sean McNeil was the only player to score in the first six minutes of the game which let North Texas get out to an early 6-5 lead. They seemed to get out of their funk after a 7-0 run but the streaky Mountaineers once again could not find ways to score in a 5 minute scoreless drought. The inability of this team to find a rhythm could spell trouble for them as the season goes along. Coach Huggins was able to provide a spark in the locker room which was probably not safe for all ears. Starting the half without a struggling Oscar Tshiebwe, the Mountaineers went on an 18-0 run to open things up to the first double digit lead of the game. Down the stretch, West Virginia was unable to step on the throat of the Eagles, letting them hang around but never truly let them back in the game.

Sunday was a completely different team that showed up to the Coliseum. One area that Huggs and the Mountaineers have perfected is showing up in big games. We saw that a few weeks ago when they gave #1 Gonzaga everything they had but just couldn’t keep up in the second half. Going in to the game, Richmond looked like they might be able to create matchup problems for the West Virginia defense with the offense they run. Quick passing and backcuts have been the way to score so far this season. Early on, it looked like that might continue. A quick change at point guard seemed to change the momentum of the game. Jordan McCabe came in and finally looked like he had his confidence back from his freshman season. He hit both of his attempted threes and looked much more comfortable in the offense.

The true turning point of the game was when Coach Huggins decided to implement the 1-2-2 full court press that they’ve worked on at times this season. Richmond could not handle the speed the game was played at during the last eight minutes of the half. That led to seven Spider turnovers in that span and twelve in the first half. That already was over Richmond’s season average of 11. West Virginia ended the half on a 29-10 run en route to a 52-30 halftime lead.

Huggins was not happy with how the second half was played. However, it is hard to play as hard as they did in the first half in a twenty point game. The Mountaineers now prepare for Big 12 play with Iowa State up first next week.

Grades

Miles McBride –

NORTH TEXAS
There was a lid on the bucket for McBride in this game like there was for most of the Mountaineers. He was able to play the point guard spot well though, getting 5 of the team’s 13 assists and only turning the ball over once.
6 points, 5 assists, 7 rebounds
Grade: B

RICHMOND
Deuce was able to take advantage of the smaller guards for Richmond and make some shots in the post. He is still having a tough time getting that mid range jumper to fall that has been deadly for him in the past. He hit both of his attempted threes though so we’ll take the few extra points from deep in exchange for the mid range. He is looking much more comfortable as the point guard getting other players involved. If he can continue to play hard on both sides of the ball, this team steps up to a new level.
20 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound
Grade: A

Sean McNeil –

NORTH TEXAS
In a poor offensive game, Sean McNeil was the one bright spot. He seems to be coming out of his shooting slump. Playing a game on the home hoops is usually a good way to fix that. He made 2 of the team’s 3 three pointers and made some tough shots to keep this team afloat.
15 points, 0 assists, 2 rebounds
Grade: A

RICHMOND
Sean is officially in a groove. He hit both of his three pointers and shot 5-8 from the field. He doesn’t get enough credit for his play making ability. After getting defenders off their feet, he was able to attack the rim and either score or dish it for his three assists.
12 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
Grade: A

Emmitt Matthews –

NORTH TEXAS
It seems like this might be what to expect from Matthews this year. A few buckets including a nice back cut for a dunk. There are a few plays a game that just leave you wanting a lot more.
6 points, 0 assists, 6 rebounds
Grade: C+

RICHMOND
Another good contribution from Emmitt Matthews. We still haven’t seen the break out game that is possible like we saw last season but this is exactly who this team needs. He’s long, he can defend, he can rebound, and every once in awhile you see a spark from him. I wish he could teach a few of these guys how to go up and dunk it with ease. One area I would like to see him improve is his decision making. He’s not a jumpshooter. Stop settling for those shots.
6 points, 2 assists, 6 rebounds
Grade: B-

Oscar Tshiebwe –

NORTH TEXAS
I think this is the first time Oscar has been held scoreless in a game. He only had two fouls but seemed lost at times which led to him only playing 13 minutes in favor of Gabe. Will we ever see the full potential from one of the top prospects to ever wear the blue and gold?
0 points, 1 assist, 7 rebounds
Grade: D

RICHMOND
Oscar seemed to flip a switch and gave us a glimpse of what we thought this year would be like. He was able to stay out of foul trouble and play 24 minutes which is the first step to seeing his potential. He was able to make few good moves down low but the highlight of the game for him is running the floor for the alley oop from Taz. We still need to see more from him but this game was good start as we enter Big 12 play.
12 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds
Grade: A

Derek Culver –

NORTH TEXAS
Culver had to really work for this double double. He made a few nice moves and was really the focal point during the game. As the North Texas defense collapsed to try to help, he made a few really nice passes for open shots. I still think I might give Culver the slight edge as best passer on this team.
10 points, 3 assists, 10 rebound
Grade: B

RICHMOND
Culver walks away from this weekend with two more double doubles. He didn’t have his best game offensively but still finishes with 10 points. He had a nice steal that finished off with a dunk on the other end but he seemed to get frustrated at times with no calls on fouls. Still, he did enough on the defensive end with the steal and an amazing Sags like block to get a good grade.
10 points, 2 assists, 11 rebound
Grade: B+

Taz Sherman –

NORTH TEXAS
Taz played a big factor down the stretch in this one. With about 9 minutes to play, he went on a 7-0 run by himself to get the Mountaineers out to a 13 point lead. After an attempt at a comeback, Taz hit another jumper and some free throws to help keep them at bay. The three ball wasn’t falling for him, going 1-6, but he still was able to find other ways to score to help the Mountaineers crawl to a win.
13 points, 1 assists, 2 rebound
Grade: B-

RICHMOND
Taz always seems to find his way into the game during a big WVU run. He is the spark plug off the bench and it showed again Sunday. He scored 5 straight points to give WVU it’s first double digit lead of the game and gave the nice lob pass to Oscar to balloon the lead to 20. He continues to be one of the top offensive performers with double digits in all but one game this year.
15 points, 1 assists, 0 rebound
Grade: A

Jalen Bridges –

NORTH TEXAS
Same old thing for Bridges. He hit his only field goal attempt. No corner three this game.
2 points, 0 assists, 1 rebound
Grade: C+

RICHMOND
Bridges has played minimal minutes compared to what was expected coming into the season. He still shows that he is an asset on the defensive end, just have not seen enough on the other side.
2 points, 1 assists, 2 rebound
Grade: C+

Isaiah Cottrell –

NORTH TEXAS
One of the only Mountaineers to shoot above 50%, Cottrell was able to provide a few sparks in his seven minutes on the floor.
6 points, 0 assists, 2 rebound
Grade: B-

RICHMOND
West Virginia didn’t need him today but Cottrell has shown he has the moves in the post that we have not seen in a long time, if ever, at WVU. He will be a solid player for the next few years and could play a big part during Big 12 play if the Mountaineers fall into another scoring drought.
2 points, 1 assists, 0 rebound
Grade: C+

Gabe Osabuohien –

NORTH TEXAS
Gabe was able to step up and play a lot of minutes with Oscar being ineffective. He was a big reason why the Mountaineers were able to hold North Texas to only 50 points. He also added 4 points including two free throws.
4 points, 2 assists, 9 rebound
Grade: A

RICHMOND
Gabe played 19 hard minutes without getting a bucket. He continues to provide quality minutes on the defensive end and do what is asked of him.
0 points, 2 assists, 3 rebound
Grade: B+

Jordan McCabe –

NORTH TEXAS
McCabe only saw the court for six minutes, didn’t put up a shot, and turned the ball over once.
0 points, 0 assists, 1 rebound
Grade: C

RICHMOND
This was Jordan’s best game since his freshman year. It might not show in the stat sheet with only six points but he is looking more comfortable. That will be needed down the stretch to give the Mountaineers two point guards that they can trust.
6 points, 0 assists, 1 rebound
Grade: B+

Kedrian Johnson –

NORTH TEXAS
One assist for the freshman and some good defense. That is all Huggs is really asking from him at the moment.
0 points, 1 assists, 0 rebound
Grade: C+

RICHMOND
Another quiet night from the freshman but he has definitely shown Coach Huggs something in these games and practices for him to continue to get minutes outside of garbage time
0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebound
Grade: C

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