This West Virginia team just continues to show that they are made of tough material as they fight out a win against #7 Texas Tech 82-71. That gives the Mountaineers 80+ points in four out of their last five games. However, Chris Beard did help out with that a little bit. He blows up at the refs, who were terrible all game long, and gets ejected. That gave the Mountaineers and Sean McNeil three extra points to put the game officially out of reach.
The Mountaineers had to play a very different style than the last few with Texas Tech really trying to pressure, especially with Deuce out of the game. He missed almost 11 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. West Virginia was able to weather the storm to take a 40-34 lead into halftime. Sean McNeil led the way in the first half with 15 points. He not only was on fire from three, but he did a good job of getting to open mid range shots. He even made an acrobatic play to finish at the rim.
McNeil was taking advantage of his opportunity with Taz Sherman ruled out right before gametime due to a groin injury. Huggs said in the pregame that he would leave it up to Taz but wanted to play it safe so he didn’t get hurt any worse. I was worried about how this game would go without Taz, as he has been the third wheel to this offense behind Deuce and Culver.
That is the most impressive part about this win. As mentioned, Taz was out and Deuce was in foul trouble in the first half. The Mountaineers follow that up with Culver getting his fourth foul with 15 minutes to go. 10 minutes without Deuce, 10 without Culver, and 40 without Taz is almost a guaranteed loss if you ask anyone that knows this team. They have come along way this season. To start the year, they were praised for possibly being the most skilled team Huggs has ever coached. Oscar Tshiebwe came out slow and the team struggled to start the year. After Tshiebwe’s departure and the Cottrell injury, this team had to completely re-tool the offense on the fly. They have shown they can put up points but they are doing just enough on the other end to get victories. It’s not always going to be pretty, but they are finding a way.
The most impressive stat is without all of those guys, the Mountaineers led for all but 1:42 of the game.
Miles McBride – Deuce led all scorers not named Sean McNeil and did a good job again hitting big shots in the second half. He gets to 20 points again despite only playing 29 minutes. One area where he gets a little bit of a downgrade is on defense. He was blown by a few more times than I would like. In the second half, he tried to stay away from picking up a third so that I can understand. But it happened a few times early on as well.
20 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
Sean McNeil – I said last game that between Taz and Sean, you have to go with the hot hand the rest of the season. It’s almost a blessing in disguise for Taz to miss this one so we could get the heroics from Sean. None bigger than his last second shot shown below. As mentioned earlier, he lead all scorers even without the technical free throws at the end. I enjoyed watching him not settling as much. He got to his spots and even got to the rim once. I also cheered pretty loud when he got his rebound. It was like spotting bigfoot. Not something you see very often.
26 points, 0 assist, 1 rebounds
Emmitt Matthews – Matthews had a poor performance on the offensive end but he still gets a high grade because of what he did on the defensive end. When Deuce left the game, he did a great job on Mac McClung. He used his length to make him work for everything and was able to get two steals. He also was asked to play big in the second half with everyone in foul trouble. It wasn’t great but he did what was asked of him at the center spot.
2 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds
Jalen Bridges – I think this is about the peak of what to expect from Jalen. He hit a three, and contributed nine total points. They don’t need much from him, just teams knowing that he can score so the defense stays out and helps open the floor for everyone else. He continues to provide good defense at the swing spot and helped out mightily on the boards with Culver out in the second half.
9 points, 1 assists, 6 rebounds
Derek Culver – 12 of Culver’s 15 points came in the first half. But the biggest of those points came after sitting on the bench for nearly ten minutes. With just over three minutes to play, Culver got good position in the paint, took it into Santos Silva, and finished the three point play. That game the Mountaineers a seven point lead that they wouldn’t look back from. He’s getting help on the rebounding side as Matthews and Bridges have committed to getting on the glass. So don’t worry about not getting a double double. It also helps greatly against a team like Texas Tech for your big man to get out and guard guys. I really enjoy Culver getting switched out on a guard, sitting down his stance, and getting a stop.
15 points, 0 assists, 8 rebounds
Gabe Osabuohien – Gabe gets his typical A grade as he came up with a few huge plays late. He was the defensive trade off to help keep Culver from getting his fifth foul. He was able to get McClung his 4th foul by taking another charge. I need charge stats. Gabe has to be close to leading the country. He also made 5 big free throws. For a guys that shoots 38% from the line, those are huge points.
5 points, 2 assists, 1 rebounds
Jordan McCabe – McCabe played some big minutes in both halves. The first stretch came with Deuce on the bench and he was able to hit a few shots. He got switched onto McClung a few times and I think they need to try and hide him on that end. In the second half, four guards and Emmitt Matthews were the five on the court. I thought McCabe did a great job fighting in the post when he was put in those situations. Only one turnover for him as well and it didn’t lead to a fast break that I can recall. Any day without one of those I consider a win.
4 points, 1 assists, 0 rebound
Kedrian Johnson – It doesn’t seem like KJ got 14 minutes but he did. That bad turnover I usually talk about with Jordan got passed down the line to Johnson. Overall, I thought he played alright. He plays hard on defense. He just doesn’t bring enough on the offense end yet. The offense seemed to stall any time he was on the court.
1 points, 0 assist, 2 rebound