West Virginia advances to the championship round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic after knocking off VCU 78-66 Thursday afternoon.
Although the Mountaineers quickly got on the board with a pair of free throws from Derek Culver, West Virginia, again, struggled from the field to start the game going 0-10 before Culver put back his own miss and gave the Mountaineers a 6-0 lead.
Offensively, West Virginia looks to be going through the motions and thinking rather than putting the ball on the floor and attacking the defense. At times, the right decisions were made, but the Mountaineers seem tentative and look to defer to a teammate rather than looking for the shot, and it was often there.
However, give credit to the VCU defense. They played up on the ball, ran some traps, and were quick to the passing lanes, forcing 21 Mountaineer turnovers.
Derek Culver was the dominant force underneath that we’ve come to expect and registered his first double double of the season with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Additionally, Culver went 7-9 from the free throw line. If he can continue to have that kind of night at the foul line, he will average 20-plus points a game.
Oscar Tshiebwe bounced back, and although there were moments where he just threw the ball up at the rim, he looked like he was slowly getting back into the groove of things and quietly had a double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds.
Deuce McBride forced shots early and after the hot start serving up 23 points in the Crossover Classic opening round, who can blame him? He started 0-5 from the field before getting his first bucket on a back door alley-oop for a layup. The defensive pressure got to Deuce early, and McCabe came in to settle things down.
After starting the game shooting 0-5, Deuce went 4-6 and finished the afternoon with 12 points.
Sean McNeil was efficient from the three-point line going 4-9 on the day for 16 points, and that is the expectation for McNeil. Hit over 40% from three and be the threat outside to keep the lane open for the bigs. Great bounce back game after struggling in round one.
I'm still waiting for Emmitt Matthews Jr. to unleash his aggressive side and attack the basket consistently. We’ve all seen him do it and be successful at it. The switch needs flipped on and remain on.
Defensively, they did have their moments of mental lapses and gave up some easy buckets. There must be better communication, or West Virginia will continue to get killed on the backdoor cuts. The Mountaineers still play good defense, but some of the mistakes are a matter of working out the kinks after a long layoff.
Overall, the game was never in doubt, although VCU did get within a possession early in the second half, but West Virginia put together a 17-5 run to extend the lead by 15 and maintained a double digit lead throughout most of the second half.
West Virginia quick team stats:
FG - 26-63 (41.3%)
3PT - 6-16 (37.5%)
FT - 20-29 (69.0%)
Rebs - 45 (+14)
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