If you asked me before last night if West Virginia could give up 87 points in regulation and still win a game, I would call you crazy. That is exactly what happened though last night as the Mountaineers took down Texas Tech 88-87. I don’t know how the rest of the fan base feels but I could go for a 9:00 game that we don’t have to wait for a double digit comeback. I won’t complain too much about a win but lets get back to that score. That is just not in the typical DNA of a West Virginia team, especially one coached by Bob Huggins. He lives off of coaching defense but this is a different team. They guard in stretches. They don’t quite have the same defensive intensity as other year’s but not enough can be said about how well they put the ball in the basket. Huggins said that this team could really shoot at the start of the season but we didn’t really believe him. With the more open offense, you are seeing all of it come together. After falling behind by 12, the Mountaineers ended the game with ten straight made shots. Deuce McBride continued to show that he is the guy to go to down the stretch, hitting the game winner, ending with 24 points. 19 of those came in the second half and he only missed one shot after halftime.
One area that still needs to be addressed is keeping guys in front in the backcourt. There are a lot of good guards in this league that can blow right past to get to the basket. I don’t have the points in the paint numbers in front of me but it has to be at least 40. That is just unacceptable. Especially when most of them were uncontested. What they were able to do down the stretch to slow down Texas Tech was impressive but it still needs to happen for maybe 25 to 30 minutes of a game. I know asking for 40 is way too much. Hopefully this team can get healthy and show that they can still be a somewhat capable defensive team.
Miles McBride – Deuce deserves nothing but the highest praise. When he left the game with his third foul, the game was tied at 45. The Red Raiders forced turnovers and no one on the Mountaineers could guard Mac McClung. He came back in with a 12 point deficit and was determined to get the gold and blue back in it.
24 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds
Jordan McCabe – I thought McCabe played his best minutes since his freshman season in the first half. With the court opened up, he was able to create for himself and get to the rim along with hitting a three. The two areas that continue to hinder his minutes is defending quicker guards and turning the ball over.
10 points, 2 assist, 3 rebound
Taz Sherman – In a game with 88 points scored, you would expect Taz to be heavily involved. He only added 10 points to the total and didn’t quite seem to have the typical flow to the game. I was disappointed in his defense. I thought he was one of the biggest culprits of letting guys get to the rim.
10 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound
Jalen Bridges – Bridges got a lot of praise from Fran last night for good reason. He is going to be a great player for a long time for the Mountaineers. That jumpshot doesn’t look the prettiest but it goes in at a high rate. He also is one of the best defenders on the roster. When the Mountaineers need a stop, he needs to be in the game.
13 points, 0 assists, 5 rebounds
Derek Culver – We have not had the typical Derek Culver since returning to the court on Saturday. He was able to give a little bit more in this game but until he is fully healthy, it is going to have to be in quick spirts. His endurance just isn’t on a level to play a lot of minutes. Only Kedrian Johnson and Seny Ndiaye got less than his 18 minutes. He is still a leader on this team as he looked very involved on the sideline. On the court, he still almost added to his double double list but came up one rebound short. There weren’t enough missed shots in the game to help him out with that.
10 points, 1 assist, 9 rebounds
Sean McNeil – McNeil had a few questionable shots that could only be described as heat checks but he hit three 3’s, one being a huge make with just under four to go. Defensively, he was ok. With this team being a small roster, everybody needs to rebound. Down the stretch, he didn’t find his way into the paint at all.
13 points, 0 assist, 0 rebound
Emmitt Matthews – We heard from Bob Huggins after the game that Emmitt has lost about 18 pounds from COVID. They are brining him back slowly but I think he provided some good minutes but he’s still not back completely. He had a nice dunk but settled for a couple jumpers that the team didn’t need.
5 points, 2 assist, 3 rebounds
Gabe Osabuohien – I’m not sure what it is, but Gabe hasn’t quite looked like himself. He especially didn’t look great in this type of fast paced game. They need him to play at his elite level on the defensive end if they want to go far in March.
0 points, 2 assist, 3 rebound
Kedrian Johnson – I will beat this drum until someone listens. Johnson needs to be in the game more. He brings a different type of energy level to the court and can still hold his own on the offensive end. He is shooting 3 of 4 from deep in Big 12 play in the limited minutes he’s had.
3 points, 0 assist, 3 rebound