West Virginia Defense Suffocates Missouri
The No. 14 West Virginia Mountaineers (16-3, 4-2) defeated the Missouri Tigers (9-10, 1-5) 74-51 on Saturday afternoon inside the Coliseum. The Mountaineers snapped a two-game losing streak in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge.
They did it with defense again after holding Missouri to 28.3% (15-53) from the floor. The Mountaineers have held six of their last seven opponents to 60 points or less.
The suffocating Mountaineer defense forced 16 turnovers, recorded 10 steals and blocked four shots and as a result, Missouri never led in the contest.
West Virginia led 20-6 with eight minutes left when Missouri went on a 10-0 run to trim their deficit down to just four. The Mountaineer offense stalled and the Tigers were finding ways to score.
West Virginia went into halftime with just a 24-23 lead after what looked as though it would be another run-away win in Morgantown.
"We knew that defense was going to create offense. If we weren't going to score, then we weren't going to let them score," WVU forward Gabe Osabuohien. "We went into the locker room, regrouped, and came out as ourselves in the second half."
Osabuohien finished with a career-high 12 rebounds, to go along with two points, two assists, two steals, and a block against his former SEC foe.
The Mountaineers were much more aggressive after halftime, as they got to the rim instead of settling for contested jump shots. They outscored Missouri, 50-28 on 50% shooting (17-34).
Jermaine Haley and Deuce McBride paced West Virginia with 15 points apiece. McBride said that "one of Huggs' really motivating speeches" at halftime changed the rest of the game.
"We knew what we had to do. We knew we had to come back out hard to take care of business and that's what we did." McBride said following the game.
Oscar Tshiebwe talked about the trust and faith that the players have for one another. Following the 10-0 Missouri run.
"We motivated each other. We know everybody on our team can play basketball," said Tshiebwe.
West Virginia returns to the hardwood on Wednesday when they travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech (12-6, 3-3). The game will be televised on ESPN+ at 8:00 p.m.