West Virginia’s opening game was tougher than expected but the Mountaineers defeated South Dakota State 79-71 on Wednesday night.
Oscar Tshiebwe went to the bench early because of foul trouble, which didn’t help WVU.
The Jackrabbits forced the Mountaineers to take shots, which didn’t always fall. WVU made 8-of-32 from beyond the arc.
Sean McNeil made just one of his first six shots from three and finished the night hitting 2-of-9. Another shooter who is usually good from long range is Miles “Deuce” McBride sank 1-of-6 from 3-point land.
Emmitt Matthews Jr. also struggled from 3.
“We shot way too many threes. We shot 32 threes. That’s way too many,” head coach Bob Huggins said.
Despite the size differential, South Dakota State managed to contend with WVU on the boards. The Mountaineers had a 41-39 advantage on the glass.
Some of the rebounding woes were due to WVU’s foul trouble. However, the Jackrabbits came to play and their defensive style allowed them to defend the lane, leading to long rebounds.
They did a really good job packing it in and really taking away our post play,” Huggins said. “We’re fortunate enough to have Deuce McBride and Taz Sherman who can make shots for us along with Sean McNeil.”
Sherman was definitely a bright spot for the Mountaineers. He made 4-of-6 three-point attempts and finished the night with 14 points. McBride led the team in scoring with 23 points and McNeil tallied 16.
WVU’s big men were quiet most of the night but that won’t be the case all season. It was the first game in a trying time with no scrimmages against opponents.
Not to mention, teams were dropping in and out of this tournament like flies.
“This is the first time we’re playing anybody but ourselves. It’s different and as I told them in the locker room we’re on a day-to-day basis and we don’t know how many more games we’re going to play or anything else. We need to enjoy and cherish the ones that we get on a day-to-day basis,” Huggins said.
Next up for the Mountaineers is VCU on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. (ET).
Photo Credit: WVU Sports