West Virginia held on to beat South Dakota State 79-71 in the opening round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic.
As expected, the game got off to a slow start and can be attributed to both teams not having the traditional "secret scrimmage" and an exhibition game before the beginning of the season. Additionally, both teams found out they were squaring up against each other just days ago.
The Mountaineers struggled to get into any rhythm offensively outside of Deuce McBride, and he was spectacular. He looks like he can score at will and went 5-7 from the field for 11 points in the first half and finished the game with 23 points.
West Virginia struggling to shoot the ball should not come as a surprise. They shot 28.6% from three last season, and going back to the aforementioned first competition of the season, getting back into rhythm with one another will take a few games. This year maybe longer, considering there is no time off in between the first three games.
Sean McNeil started slow, but his confidence never wavered and continued to be aggressive and ended the night with 16 points.
Taz Sherman picked his spots and was an efficient 4-6 from behind the arc, and he finished with 14 points.
South Dakota State packed the paint and was not going to allow anything easy, plus Oscar Tshiebwe and Gabe Osabuohien both got into foul trouble early. It seemed to throw Oscar off for the night, but Gabe came back big in the second half, attacked the boards, and ended the game with eight rebounds.
Derek Culver had a big night on the glass with 13 rebounds but struggled a little bit offensively; credit to South Dakota State for forcing the ball outside.
The surprising stat of the night was only three turnovers from the Mountaineers. I don’t expect that number to hold, but that’s a big jump from averaging 14.4 per game last year.
Overall, the game was far from pretty, but the team might make some strides in game two on Thursday and maybe a rejuvenated Oscar Tshiebwe after a lackluster opening night.
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