The Mountaineers walked away yesterday afternoon with their fourth loss of the season after Andrew Jones’ game winning shot finished things off 72-70. West Virginia looked good early, making shots and getting just enough stops to get out to a four point lead at half. It was a very back and fourth game with both teams hitting some big shots. Taz was a huge part of that finishing the half with thirteen points. That included three of the team’s six threes in the half. You could see at times that the guards were getting easy drives to the basket for the Longhorns, which was concerning. Huggins alluded to it in the postgame that they were just more athletic than the guards for the Mountaineers.
The defense came out a lot better to start the second half, allowing West Virginia to get out to a nine point lead with 15 minutes to go. Derek Culver really seemed to be taking over as the Texas bigs got tired. Badly timed turnovers allowed Texas to get out in transition and get back in the game. We knew a slump was coming for the Mountaineers because there is always at least one per game. Unfortunately, this one came down the stretch. West Virginia was only able to hit one shot in the final 4:30. Give the Longhorns some credit. They tried to feed Culver a few times and Texas made him catch it pretty far out so he had to work for his points. I won’t go too much into it, but the missed free throws did hurt. There are plenty of other reasons why West Virginia lost but the two by Matthews and the front end of the one and one by Culver would have been huge. This team is learning though. I like what I’m seeing for the most part and all they have to do is make it to the tournament. I’m not too worried about what seed they get. Just continue to figure out this new style of play and they’ll be fine.
Miles McBride – Deuce still ended up with 12 points but just didn’t quite look the same as he has the past few weeks. The athleticism of the Texas guards seemed to bother him a bit. He wasn’t the biggest culprit, but he did allow a few straight line drives. I wish they could have got the ball back into his hands one more time at the end. I’d like to see him or Sherman shooting free throws to close games out. He gets a little bit of a boost in the grade for being a warrior and playing 37 minutes in the game.
12 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds
Sean McNeil – McNeil was reportedly battling the flu going into this one but he played pretty well considering that. He scored 14 points with three 3’s. I’m ok with the quick trigger but I’d like to see him be a little more selective. In the second half, he shot 1-5 from deep when points were hard to come by.
14 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound
Emmitt Matthews – First of all, stop it if you are completely blaming this game on Emmitt. His missed free throws are the thing you saw last, but there were plenty of other things that allowed Texas to still be in that game. If it weren’t for Emmitt battling for two offensive rebounds on that possession, Texas would have already had the ball back. I thought he playing some really good minutes. He is consistently hitting a shot or two from deep but he is doing a better job of using his frame to get to the rim. He is also leading the way in helping Culver on the glass, grabbing eight rebounds in this one.
9 points, 0 assist, 8 rebounds
Jalen Bridges – Another game with foul trouble for Bridges. He only managed to play 18 minutes and ended up with four fouls, all of those coming in the second half. I don’t really have much to say good or bad about him in this one. He was just kind of there on the court.
2 points, 0 assists, 3 rebounds
Derek Culver – Another double double for Derek. He got to 14 points but the Texas forwards really made him work for a lot of those. He led the team with four turnovers which isn’t too many but you still would like to see that cleaned up. With the four guard lineup, you should be able to space things out and get him more open looks but too many times down the stretch, things were very bottled up in the paint. West Virginia needed to just continue with what was working instead of trying to force it down to him late.
14 points, 2 assists, 16 rebounds
Taz Sherman – Taz led the team with 17 points, 12 coming in the first half. He only hit one shot in the second half. It was a big one, a mid range jumper with under two to play. The rest of the half was tough going for him, shooting 0-5 from the field and 0-4 from three. That’s the first time I’ve seen him go that cold and played a big factor in how the offense was run as the game closed out. He’ll be fine but that is the worst possible time to have that stretch. Even as he was struggling, Huggs stuck with him on the court. When he isn’t scoring, he is a liability as he allowed two straight line drives including not being able to keep Ramey in front of him on the final play.
17 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound
Gabe Osabuohien – Gabe only saw the court for 11 minutes in this one. He gave some good minutes but it wasn’t a typical Gabe game
0 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound
Jordan McCabe – McCabe only played eight minutes but I thought he gave really good minutes in the first half. He made a shot and played some good defense in a short stretch. That is the type of games they need from him moving forward.
2 points, 1 assist, 0 rebound
Kedrian Johnson – In six minutes of play, Johnson racked up three fouls and didn’t get to take a shot. Not quite the performance you wanted to see following his breakout against Oklahoma State. He will have plenty of other chances to prove himself as the season goes along.
0 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound