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First Half Shooting Struggles Plague No. 11 WVU in Win Over Northern Texas

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia defeated North Texas 62-50 on Friday afternoon in the 11th-ranked Mountaineers home opener in front of an empty Coliseum.

However, the performance wasn’t one that turned heads.

WVU shot just 38 percent from the field, 25 percent from beyond the arc and 76 percent from the free throw line.

The Mountaineers had an abysmal first half, making just 9-of-35 from the floor and 1-of-8 from 3. WVU had just 21 points at the break.

Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe were held scoreless. Miles McBride, Taz Sherman and Emmitt Matthews Jr. all had just two points.

Photo Credit: Dale Sparks

In the second half, the Mountaineers performed much better, shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range.

“We woke them up,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “I don’t know. It’s been a long few weeks. It’s so hard. We’re playing, then we’re not playing. We’re playing this team. No, we’re not. We’re going to play this other team. We practiced getting ready for Robert Morris and then Robert Morris can’t play. We wanted to play yesterday instead of today to give us a couple of days before we play on Sunday and we couldn’t do that. It hasn’t been easy but it’s better than not playing at all.”

No one is denying that this season is much different from years past. Schedule changes, no fans, social distancing, face masks and more. The new norm is much different.

That may have contributed to WVU’s first half struggles but the positive is that the Mountaineers found a way to overcome them in the second half.

Trailing by eight at halftime, WVU went on an impressive 18-0 run to begin the second half and take a 39-29 lead with 13:51 to play. The Mean Green refused to go away but the Mountaineers always had an answer.

Photo Credit: Dale Sparks

In the second half, Culver looked like the Culver of usual and scored 10 points. He finished the afternoon with 10 points and 10 boards for his 19th career double-double.

Sean McNeil continued to make shots on Friday, tallying 15. Sherman had 13 points, most of which came after the break.

“I just said on the radio show, we thought and think Sean McNeil can really shoot the basketball,” Huggins said. “Taz Sherman can really shoot the basketball. Deuce McBride is a way better-than-average shooter. Jordan McCabe is a way better-than-average shooter. Emmitt Matthews came back (this summer) making shots, shooting the ball better than he had shot the ball in his first two years here. You’re looking at five guys right there who we thought could stretch the floor, who are very capable of making threes and making shots off the bounce, really being able to occupy the defense.

“That hasn’t happened to this point, not with all of them on the floor. Sean has made shots but we didn’t have other guys who were making shots. Deuce has made shots but we didn’t have other guys making shots. Taz has made shots but we didn’t have other guys make shots. We need people to be more consistent. When you’re open, you should have a great chance to make the shot. We haven’t, so that’s been a problem. We make shots in shooting drills. They’re in the practice facility on their own, working on their game. The ball hasn’t gone in for whatever reason.”

WVU forced 15 Northern Texas turnovers but they also turned it over 15 times, which has been an issue frequently this season.

The Mountaineers host Richmond on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Dale Sparks- WVU Sports

Shanna Rose
WVU Graduate with a bachelor's in journalism and multimedia journalist. Sports Fan and sports writer. Former WVU News reporter. Contact Shanna on Twitter @SMR1837
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