West Virginia coach Bob Huggins didn’t get too complex when discussing the ninth-ranked Mountaineers’ 79-65 loss last Tuesday night at No. 3 Kansas.
“They had a great night and we didn’t have a great night,” he said.
West Virginia (7-2) aims to have a great day Tuesday when it hosts Northeastern, an opponent added to its schedule on Wednesday, in its final nonconference test before it jumps into the teeth of its Big 12 Conference schedule.
The Mountaineers appeared to be in decent shape at halftime at Kansas. They owned a 36-35 lead behind the hot shooting of Sean McNeil, who hit all six of his 3-pointers and scored 20 points in the first half. His bank-shot 3-ball just before the horn gave them the advantage.
But McNeil cooled and West Virginia couldn’t get its inside game going, nor could it keep the Jayhawks from bombing away. Kansas was a stunning 16 of 37 from the arc, turning a close game into a 15-point game by the eight-minute mark of the second half and cruising to the finish line.
Huggins said a 3-2 zone that the Mountaineers got mileage from in the first half experienced breakdowns after halftime.
“I thought that was pretty effective in the first half,” he said. “We made them do what we thought we had to make them do. That was try and make them make jump shots and not let them drive it at the basket. When we went back to man late in the game, they drove it right at the rim.”
Miles McBride is the team’s top scorer at 15.4 points per game , while Derek Culver averages 13.7 and 10.6 rebounds per game. Culver couldn’t get on track at Kansas, managing just eight points on 4 of 9 shooting. Huggins said Culver didn’t finish through contact as he usually does.
West Virginia was scheduled to host Buffalo, but the Bulls canceled because of COVID-19 issues. Northeastern agreed to take the game, enabling it to play an extra nonconference game before Colonial Athletic Association play starts over the weekend.
While the Huskies might be just 1-4, the Mountaineers shouldn’t take them for granted. Northeastern has played a difficult schedule with more than a little distinction, coming close to wins at Syracuse and Old Dominion.
The Huskies owned a 15-point second half lead in their last game on Dec. 22 at Georgia before the unbeaten Bulldogs wore them down with depth and athleticism. Georgia pulled away for a 76-58 decision.
“I thought we played a really clean first half,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. “I thought the second half, they came out with a ton of energy, got physical with us.”
Tyson Walker is the Huskies’ top dog, averaging 17 points and 5.6 assists per game. Jahmyl Telfort is their other double-figure scorer, coming off the bench to score 13.8 per game.
The teams have met just once before, occurring in 2003 when current West Virginia assistant Ron Everhart ran the Northeastern program. The Huskies pulled off a 91-84 win in Morgantown.
–Field Level Media