The Mountaineers came away with a 79-71 victory over South Dakota State in the opening round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic on Wednesday night. It may not have been pretty but nonetheless, West Virginia fought through and earned their first win of the season.
Here are a few takeaways from last night's game:
Deuce is the real deal
There was a lot of talk this offseason about Miles "Deuce" McBride stepping up his game a notch and being a real leader on this team and that's exactly what we saw last night. Anytime the Mountaineers needed to get some offense going, McBride was the answer with that beautiful jumpshot of his. He finished the night with 23 points on 9-19 shooting. It's only one game, but you can tell McBride has elevated his game.
Too many three's
West Virginia shot 32 three-point attempts and only made eight of them. That's 25%. This was the worst three-point shooting team in the Big 12 Conference a year ago and got the 2020-21 season off to a rough start. I understand Huggins has confidence in guys like Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman to make those shots but guys like Jordan McCabe can't be taking four threes and go 0-4 or Kedrian Johnson coming right off the bench and throwing one up without getting into the rhythm of the game. I don't mind the high volume of threes if they are working early but if the shots clearly aren't falling like last night, they MUST pound the paint. I mean, I know Oscar Tshiebwe was in foul trouble seemingly all night but Derek Culver only had seven points when Tshiebwe barely played. This can't be a team that lives and dies by the three ball.
Team looked sluggish
This was anticipated with it being the first game of the season and all but man, there seemed to be a real lack of energy from West Virginia from start to finish. There were times where an opportunity for an offensive rebound was there for Culver's taking but he was just kind of standing there.
A big problem on the defensive side was their help side defense and how late it was. They took to long to slide over or down and it led to numerous wide open layups at the bucket. The defense also had a hard time rotating and staying on their guy. South Dakota State did a really good job with ball movement and West Virginia was just too slow to move and once again, gave them several good looks from three.
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