Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Three to go

As has been the case multiple times this season, West Virginia University men’s basketball games scheduled for the week as of Monday evening get postponed in the days following the writing of this column. And so, it happened again last week. Thursday’s makeup game at Baylor was scrapped by the Big 12. Not because of COVID, but because when the Big 12 administration was putting together this week’s makeup schedule, they decided that West Virginia playing seven games in 14 days was not a good idea.

So, the game at Baylor was cancelled and the Mountaineers were able to return home from Texas following last Tuesday’s 74-66 win over TCU instead of hanging around two more days and returning Thursday after playing Baylor. That was a nice reprieve since it gave WVU some needed rest time before playing Kansas State in Morgantown on Saturday.

It gets even better for the Mountaineers. The three makeup games this week will all be in Morgantown which gives West Virginia four consecutive home games to conclude the season including Saturday’s 65-43 win over Kansas State. While the game at Baylor was lost from the schedule, the Bears did have to come to Morgantown for a game on Tuesday. That was a matchup between the third and sixth rated teams in this week’s AP top 25.

TCU will come to Morgantown for a Thursday matchup at 7 p.m. on ESPN+. The regular season concludes Saturday with Oklahoma State coming in for a 2 p.m. tip on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Saturday’s win over Kansas State gave head coach Bob Huggins win number 898. He’ll have a decent chance to reach 900 this week, but it will not be easy. Baylor has struggled a bit since returning from a nearly three-week COVID hiatus. WVU should handle TCU, but it’s thinking like that which causes coaches nightmares. Oklahoma State is coming on strong and is led by freshman Cade Cunningham who could well be the top pick in this year’s NBA draft.

Against the Wildcats Saturday the Mountaineers had another sluggish first half. WVU held an early 11-4 advantage, but scored only 15 points over the final 13:24 of the half. Were it not for Kansas State struggling to the tune of 7-for-25 shooting and 11 turnovers, the Wildcats would’ve been ahead at the break. The second half was all West Virginia as WVU shot 50% and outscored Kansas State 39-21.

Now is the time of the season for WVU to find a way to play two good halves. If they can do that a deep run into March is there for the taking.