MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – (November 27, 2020) — The no. 15-ranked West Virginia basketball team defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers by a final score of 70-64 to win the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic Championship.
The Mountaineers (3-0) were struggling against the Hilltoppers (2-1) from the middle of the first half until the under 16-media timeout in the second half. A crucial part in that was big men Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe got into foul trouble early-on.
From there, coach Huggins switched between freshman Isaiah Cottrell and Gabe Osabuohien to run a little bit of small ball until it was safe to put Culver and Tshiebwe back in.
WVU coach Bob Huggins had some positive words to how Osabuohien was playing on Friday afternoon.
“He’s the guy who really sets the tempo for us in terms of how hard we play,” Huggins said. “He’s also without a question our best defender. He gets his hands on more balls and he’s our most versatile defender.”
West Virginia had to overcome a 10-point deficit with about 16 minutes left in the game. From there, West Virginia went on a 35-19 run to end the game.
Culver led the Mountaineers with 15 points. The forward scored 45 points over the three games in the last three days.
Deuce McBride was right behind Culver in scoring with 14. The Cincinnati native led the Mountaineers in scoring over the tournament with 49 points.
Taz Sherman scored 12 points off the bench. Sherman brought a spark off the bench that the Mountaineers needed.
The JUCO product shot 5-of-8 and 2-of-3 from three.
WVU coach Bob Huggins was able to detect some of the grown pains with this year’s basketball team thus far.
“We’ve just got to clean so much up,” Huggins said. “We don’t run our sets very well and we don’t pass the ball very well or enough.
“Quite frankly, we’ve got 13 good players and so then you get a little bit of pouting going on because some guys don’t get the minutes they think they deserve or maybe the minutes they had a year ago,” Huggins added. “We have good kids – good, quality guys – and I understand. I was one of those guys who sat on the bench my whole freshman year. I was fortunate enough to dig my way out of it and that’s what they’ve got to do. If somebody is playing better than you the remedy for that is you play better. Bring your game up to their standard.”
Culver was named MVP of the tournament, while McBride and Gabe Osabuohien where named to the tournament All-First Team.
The Mountaineers will get a break after playing three days in-a-row. WVU will need the break as they will travel to Indianapolis to take on the no. 1-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Jimmy V Classic next Wednesday. The coverage will start at 7 P.M. on ESPN.