As 2021 comes to a close, we take a look back at some of the best moments for West Virginia’s men’s basketball team. Whether it was head coach Bob Huggins getting win No. 900 or Miles McBride sending Texas Tech home in the final seconds, this year has been filled with a lot to cheer about for Mountaineer fans.
Wesley Shoemaker: Nov. 12 – 74-59 win over Pitt
Beating your rival is fun, but BEATING your rival is even more fun.
The Backyard Brawl was back this year and it came in a BIG way. In West Virginia’s second game of the season, they hosted the Panthers on a Friday night in Morgantown. West Virginia forced 32 Pitt turnovers and ran away with this one.
West Virginia fans had plenty to cheer about all night long, and it was a win that solidified West Virginia’s place as Pitt’s big brother. Jalen Bridges had 18 points, and West Virginia shot 50.8% from the field in the victory.
Quinn Burkitt: Feb. 9 – 82-71 victory at then-No. 7 Texas Tech
The Mountaineers were not only able to knock off one of the top teams in the country in this one but also forced star junior guard Mac McClung to foul out with a minute left in regulation. West Virginia’s performance was also enough to tick off Tech head coach Chris Beard and get him tossed from the game and secure some free throws near the end of the game to take the 11 point victory.
Mountaineer sophomore guard Miles McBride ultimately won the battle against McClung netting 20 points as opposed to McClung’s 17 points on the day. The big test of this game was at the free throw line where West Virginia knocked down 29 charity stripe shots as opposed to Texas Tech’s 14 made free throws.
Aaron Parker: Jan. 4 – Mountaineers overcome 19-point second-half deficit to beat Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State on the road 87-84
WVU did not have a strong first half, as a late three-pointer put the Cowboys up by 10 at the break.
Oklahoma State extended their lead early in the second half to 19, but the Mountaineers stormed back when the game seemed out of reach. Forward Derek Culver was consistent the whole way through, as he scored 22 points in the post. Taz Sherman also helped with 20 points of his own, but the man at the helm was none other than Miles “Deuce” McBride.
McBride scored 21 points and had back-to-back huge three-pointers to give the Mountaineers the lead, and then extend that lead to four points late. McBride also hit a tough two-point jump shot with just under a minute to play to keep the Cowboys out of range.
Wesley Shoemaker: Feb. 20 – 84-82 victory over Texas
In the midst of a weird month of February, West Virginia traveled to the state of Texas and did not know if they were going to be playing. Texas had been dealing with many power outages, but sure enough the two teams squared off in Austin.
West Virginia seemed to be down and out early, going down 53-43 at halftime. At one point in the second half, West Virginia trailed by 19 points. Then, there was a small scuffle on the Texas bench during a timeout, and West Virginia came out swinging for the remainder of the game.
West Virginia had five scorers reach double digits, and tied the game after a Miles McBride three-pointer with 6:29 to go. Two Taz Sherman free throws put West Virginia ahead with 2:26 remaining, and the Mountaineers held on for the win.
Quinn Burkitt: Nov. 12 – 74-59 victory over Pitt
It was a great night for the West Virginia defense which looked like the Mountaineer defense of the past after snatching a whopping 32 turnovers to control the ball most of the night. The last time the Mountaineers forced that many turnovers was back in 2016 when they forced Western Carolina to give up the rock a total of 34 times. It was a close game most of the first half until West Virginia went on a 9-0 scoring run near the end of the opening half for a 15-point lead before halftime, 34-29.
The Mountaineers were then able to extend their lead to 21 points in the second half a few times as Jalen Bridges led the fiery offensive attack with 18 points. Three other Mountaineers ended their night in double figures including Taz Shermans’s 17 points, Sean McNeil’s 11 and Malik Curry’s 10 points.
Aaron Parker: Mar. 19 – 84-67 victory over Morehead State in NCAA Tournament/ Bob Huggins’s 900th Win
WVU came into the 2021 NCAA Tournament as a 3 seed for the first time since 2016. They matched up with 14-seeded Morehead State after being eliminated in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.
While the score indicates a type of blowout, it wasn’t necessarily that. The Mountaineers took a quick 17-6 lead, but after a scoring drought, Morehead State made it tight. The Mountaineers had a seven point lead at halftime.
West Virginia was able to pull away because of double-figures from four of their five starters. Jalen Bridges scored 15 points, while Derek Culver added 12, and Sean McNeil had 13. However, the night belonged to Miles McBride. McBride scored 30 points, making his first five shots from the field, and shooting 11-for-17 on the night.
Wesley Shoemaker: Dec. 8- 56-53 victory over UConn
West Virginia’s first ranked opponent in the 2021-2022 season came in an old Big East foe. No. 15 UConn traveled into West Virginia, and it brought back the bruising, physical, and defensive games so many fans were used to.
West Virginia and UConn traded blows the whole game, but it was the West Virginia defense that came to be the difference. West Virginia switched into a 1-3-1 zone late, confusing the Huskies and forcing turnovers on multiple possessions. Most fans will remember the 15 missed free throws, but most fans will also remember singing Country Roads when the game ended.
Taz Sherman led all scorers with 23 points, and the Mountaineers came out victorious against one of their old rivals.
Quinn Burkitt: Mar. 19 – 84-67 victory over Morehead State
The lone NCAA tournament win of the year for West Virginia came in the second round against Morehead State in a game in which Miles McBride dropped in a team high 30 points. The victory also marked Bob Huggins 900th career victory and saw the Mountaineers turn a one-point game into a double-digit lead within less than a minute with 13 minutes left in regulation.
Turnovers were the determining factor in the West Virginia win as Morehead State turned the ball over 18 times which resulted in 24 Mountaineer points on the other end of the court. The win sent West Virginia to the next round of the tournament against Syracuse where the Mountaineers season ended in a 75-72 loss to the 11th seed Orange.
Aaron Parker: Feb. 9 – 82-71 victory at #7 Texas Tech to complete season sweep
After beating Texas Tech in Morgantown in an instant classic less than two weeks prior, the Mountaineers would have their hands full trying to beat the same team twice. WVU came into the matchup ranked No. 14, while Texas Tech was up to No. 7 in the country.
The game was a lot like the first matchup, where both teams battled, scrapped, and went back-and-forth. Miles McBride was in fooul trouble for much of the first half, so WVU depended on Jordan McCabe to fill the void. McCabe put in four points, but help keep the offense under control, despite not seeing much playing time in previous games.
The Mountaineers escaped Lubbock with a win because of their ability to score across the board. Miles McBride ended the game with 20 points, while Derek Culver had 15 points of his own and eight rebounds. The star of the night was Sean McNeil, who scored 26 points, while shooting 8-for-11 from the field.
The night was capped off when then-Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard received a technical foul with under a minute remaining. Beard then lost control and got thrown out of the game.
Wesley Shoemaker: Feb. 9- WVU Sweeps TTU, Wins 82-71
Thinking back to last basketball season, the only time West Virginia had to go into any sort of hostile environment seemed to be in the state of Texas. When the Mountaineers traveled to Lubbock, Texas, to face the No. 7 ranked Red Raiders, the Mountaineers were coming off two straight wins, but had to battle hard to complete the season sweep of Texas Tech.
Sean McNeil had 26 points, and West Virginia defeated Texas Tech on the road for the first time since 2016, but also won their first road game against a top 10 opponent since 2016. If it wasn’t already going well enough for West Virginia, Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard got ejected late in the game and went to give Bob Huggins an epic fistbump after an even more epic meltdown.
It is rare to beat a top 10 team on the road, but to have beaten the same Texas Tech team at home on Miles McBride’s late game heroics just two weeks prior made this victory just that much sweeter.
Quinn Burkitt: Jan. 25 – 88-87 victory over then-No. 10 Texas Tech – The Mountaineers continued their habit of late game comebacks in this one after being down 75-63 with seven minutes left in regulation and coming back behind McBride’s 24 points. The sophomore guard hit a three with a little over a minute remaining in the game before hitting a two-pointer closer to the basket for the game winner. Texas Tech’s Mac McClung came down and attempted a shot at the buzzer but it didn’t fall and allowed for the West Virginia upset victory.
While McBride led the way offensively for West Virginia with 24 points, the Mountaineers also had five players finish in double figures in an offensive dominant game including Jalen Bridges and Sean McNeil’s 13 points apiece.
Aaron Parker: Feb. 20 – WVU rallies back from 19 down again to defeat No. 12 Texas on the road
As hard as it is to believe, WVU managed to have two different games where they came back from 19 down on the road to pick up a conference win. The win against Texas seemed bigger, as it was later in the season against a higher ranked team.
Texas came to play, as Matt Coleman put up 20 points, along with 14 from Jericho Sims, and 28 from Courtney Ramey, who couldn’t hardly miss a shot.
WVU came storming back when they started to get production from their starting five. Emmitt Matthews and Derek Culver both provided 14 points, with Sean McNeil and Miles McBride knocking down multiple key jump shots in the comeback effort. MnNeil finished with 16 points, while McBride finished with 17. Taz Sherman also added 14 points off the bench.
With the Mountaineers up by two with under a second to go, Texas had time for one inbound play that would have to be a tip-in. The pass went straight to Jericho Sims in front of the basket, but the shot went off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Wesley Shoemaker: Mar. 19 – Huggins gets 900th win
It is not often your head coach continually makes history, but that is exactly what West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins did in the NCAA Tournament. With the Mountaineers picking up the 84-67 win over Morehead State, Huggins secured his 900th career victory. He was surrounded by his players and family.
Huggins’ success has been the talk of the town recently. Huggins is currently the fourth winningest Division I coach ever and he has a chance at getting to third on that list this season. Huggins never complains about his teams’ talent, rather he always challenges them to work hard day in and day out.
West Virginia had a shot to get Huggins to 900 twice to end the regular season, but I think he was more glad everyone would stop talking about it. Although West Virginia’s tournament run came to an end two days later, Huggins getting to 900 is my top basketball moment this season.
Quinn Burkitt: Dec. 8 – 56-53 victory over then-No. 15 Uconn
In an exciting matchup inside the Coliseum, the Mountaineers made sure to give all of West Virginia nation something to cheer for in this low scoring upset win over a ranked team early in the season. The West Virginia defense was the story in this win as Gabe Osabuohien rebounded a Uconn shot with 17 seconds left in regulation which set up some Sean McNeil free throws for the four-point lead with little time left at all in the game.
This season West Virginia has relied on a pair of shooters to score the majority of their points and nothing changed in this game as Taz Sherman dropped a team high 23 points while McNeil sank 16 points.
Aaron Parker: Jan. 25 – 88-87 victory over No. 10 Texas Tech behind McBride game winner
This contest between the No. 11 Mountaineers and No. 10 Red Raiders would go down as one of the better games of the college basketball season, as Mac McClung and Miles McBride would duke it out in a back-and-forth battle.
The Mountaineers got off to a good start and built up a nice lead, but Texas Tech got hot and made it a one point game at halftime. In the second half, Texas Tech took the lead and extended it to 12 points at one time backed by the hot hand of McClung. McClung would finish with a game-high 30 points.
When hope started dwindling, Miles McBride stepped in and took over. Down by 12 with 7:43 to play, McBride made a jump shot to cut the lead to 10. McBride got hot after the jump shot, making another four jumpers down the stretch, including two big threes. McBride added five free-throws down the stretch to close the gap.
With the Mountaineers down by three with 1:35 to play, McBride made his third three-pointer of the night and second of the second half to tie the game up. On the ensuing possession, Mac McClung took the lead back with a three-pointer of his own at the top of the key.
It would come down to the last second as WVU brought the ball up the floor down by one with 16 seconds to go. McBride got the ball and took some time off the clock before driving to the low block and putting up a jump shot with two defenders on him.
McBride made the tough basket, but Texas Tech had time to go down for one last shot. Mac McClung sprinted down the floor and took a falling away jumper that just missed off the rim.
Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography