Miles McBride didn’t waste much time picking up where he left off last season.
After erupting for a career-high 23 points in the opener, McBride aims to continue his strong play on Thursday afternoon as No. 15 West Virginia challenges Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D.
McBride averaged 14.0 points over his last three games during the 2019-20 season for the Mountaineers. The sophomore guard followed that up on Wednesday by sinking 9 of 19 shots from the floor in West Virginia’s 79-71 win over South Dakota State.
“Honestly, just get the ball to my teammates and let the game come to me,” McBride said. “The first thing when you step on the floor is to compete and to win. That’s really the only things going through my head.”
Sean McNeil scored a career-high 16 points and Taz Sherman sank four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points off the bench for the Mountaineers.
“(McNeil) shot the ball really well this whole preseason,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “When you score as much as he and Taz do, you aren’t a very good coach if you tell them to go guard the best guy all the time, because you have to have them on the floor. (Sean) has come a long way defensively.”
Oscar Tshiebwe, who was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, mustered just seven points while being limited by foul trouble on Wednesday. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Tshiebwe averaged team-best totals in points (11.2) and rebounds (9.3) last season.
Derek Culver had 14 rebounds for the Mountaineers, who hope to sharpen their skills in this tournament before heading to the Jimmy V Classic next week. West Virginia, which replaced Tennessee after the No. 12 Volunteers withdrew following their shutdown, will face preseason No. 1 Gonzaga next Wednesday.
The Mountaineers, however, will need to turn their attention toward Virginia Commonwealth, which advanced to the semifinals with an 85-69 victory over Utah State on Wednesday.
Nah’Shon Hyland, who was a member of the Atlantic-10 All-Rookie Team last season, enjoyed a strong start to his sophomore campaign. Hyland highlighted his career-high 23-point performance by sinking five 3-pointers to pace the Rams.
Vince Williams Jr. had a personal-best 15 points for Virginia Commonwealth, which overcame a seven-point deficit with just under 11 minutes remaining to outscore Utah State by a 29-6 margin.
“A little havoc, a little havoc,” Rams coach Mike Rhoades said. “These guys wanted to press. We started getting our hand on balls. We had some great traps, we had some good rotations. Some of the plays they made at the end of the press in the first half — they made some pull-ups and a couple corners 3s — but as the game wore on, they took a couple of those shots, they missed and we rebounded it.”
Virginia Commonwealth started the week set to compete in the Volunteer Classic in Tennessee before plans changed due to positive COVID-19 tests among the Vols. The Rams’ open schedule didn’t last long, as they accepted Wichita State’s spot in the South Dakota tournament after the Shockers were forced to drop out.
–Field Level Media