Derek Culver is of course expected to lead West Virginia in rebounding night in and night out as the premier forward on the squad.
And Culver’s rebounding prowess was on display again in No. 10 West Virginia’s 74-66 victory over TCU on the road Tuesday night when he snagged 14 boards.
What may be more impressive than Culver’s double-double — which included 18 points — might be the fact that he helped stymie TCU’s attack and limited the Horned Frogs to just three offensive rebounds all game, the lowest total allowed by a West Virginia team since allowing just two to Oklahoma on March 3, 2019.
“We knew we had to rebound it,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “We weren’t making shots, we weren’t making free throws, and they shot it pretty well. That was something that we talked about before the game, and we talked about even more at halftime.”
By halftime, West Virginia had allowed just one offensive board to TCU. By game’s end, just three.
It was the ninth time TCU had been held up 10 offensive boards during a game this season, but still ranks as the lowest output. Overall, TCU averages 9.8 offensive rebounds per game this season.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, have held opponents to single-digit offensive rebounds six times this season. WVU is 5-1 in those games with wins against Iowa State twice, Texas, Northeastern and TCU with a double-overtime loss to Oklahoma tossed in.
Want to take a guess at a possible pattern in those six games?
If you guessed Culver hitting the glass hard, you’d be correct.
In the six games that West Virginia has held opponents to less than 10 offensive rebounds, Culver has four double-doubles. Three of those helped result in wins.
Culver said he knows the importance of getting started early on the boards, too.
“I just try to come with more intensity than he is — try to hit him before he hits me,” the 6-foot-10 junior forward said. “All rebounding is, is that you’re gonna get hit in the face; it’s just a matter of how hard you’re gonna get hit and if you’re willing to take a hit. I was trying to hit them before they hit me. I know once they got started they were going to try to key in on that.”
Culver said he knows that it’s not all on him. If he’s grabbing double-digit rebounds, though, it makes life a little easier on the shooters to get out in transition and hit shots.
Culver said he’s never worried about that happening.
“I know my guards are always going to heat up. Sometimes it takes them a little longer, but they’re like diesel engines — it might take awhile to get them started, but once they start you're gonna have to to kill them to make sure they're not doing any more damage to you,” he said. “I know they’re going to come around. They’re never going to leave me hanging.”
West Virginia is now 5-1 when holding opponents to less than 10 offensive rebounds, and Culver is a big part of that equation. As the schedule brings West Virginia back home to close out the regular season, Culver hopes to add a few more tallies in the win column.
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