by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University Men’s Basketball Team resumed their season Saturday following a two-week COVID induced hiatus with a 69-47 win at Kansas State. I knew Kansas State was struggling this season, but I had no idea the extent of their issues. The thinking was the Mountaineers might struggle after the lengthy layoff, and WVU was in no way a sharp basketball team, but KSU proved to be a very gracious host. At the first media timeout West Virginia led 10-2 and the Wildcats had committed six turnovers while able to take just two shots.
West Virginia built the lead to 21-4 at the 9:24 mark. At halftime the lead was 31-17 and Kansas State had 18 turnovers and 18 shots taken. Indeed, West Virginia couldn’t have had a better team to play coming off the layoff.
So much for the softer teams. In a few hours the 11th ranked Mountaineers will host 10th ranked Texas Tech in a Big Monday matchup and will host Florida on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. So, I’m going to hit pause for now and return following the matchup between Texas Tech and WVU to offer up a few more thoughts.
All I can say after Monday night’s game is the Mountaineers are anything but relaxing to watch. Miles McBride hit a short jumper with three seconds to play to give WVU an 88-87 win over Texas Tech. West Virginia still had to hang on to secure the win as Tech’s Mac McClung missed a baseline jumper at the buzzer. McClung, who scored 30 points in the game, was unstoppable in the second half, so one had to think this shot had a chance.
McBride was also unstoppable in the second half scoring 19 of his 24 points in that period. More impressive, perhaps, is that 17 of those 19 points were scored in the final 7:11 of the game when WVU rallied from a 75-63 deficit. McBride is beginning to exhibit DaSean Butleresque game winning abilities.
It was a strange game statistically. In a game where WVU lead by 10 in the first half and trailed by 12 in the second half, the Mountaineers committed a not too bad 12 turnovers, but only forced two turnovers. That led to a 25-0 deficit in points off of turnovers. Texas Tech also took 21 more shots than the Mountaineers. Those numbers don’t indicate a close game, but we’ve been waiting for the Mountaineers to get hot from beyond the arc and Monday night they were 12 of 19. I’ll have some more of that, please.
One note about the WVU women’s season. I haven’t paid close attention, but they are 11-2 and on a five-game conference win streak. So, I found out their games are ESPN+ and tuned in to watch them play Kansas State last Wednesday. I figured I jinxed the ladies as they trailed the Wildcats, often by double digits, most of the game. Things were particularly ominous when WVU trailed 56-44 with 3:27 left in the game. That’s when the Mountaineers went on an unlikely 21 point run to win the game 65-56. Since I know they are on ESPN+, I’ll check in more often.