Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Odds and ends

In a few hours Clemson and LSU will be playing for the NCAA College Football Championship. The defending champion Tigers of Clemson are currently a six-point underdog to the Tigers of LSU. Personally, I don’t have a Tiger in this hunt, but most of the time I trend to getting behind the underdog in these situations. I still have some time to decide, but I’ll probably be pulling for Clemson.
Then again, it will be hard to root against LSU’s Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback who kind of came out of nowhere to have one of the best seasons in NCAA history. The senior has proven over and over again this season was no fluke. There’s a pretty good QB on the other side of the ball in Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who is three years younger than Burrow.
Thing is, the 20 year old Lawrence won the championship as a true freshman last season at age 19 and has yet to lose a college football game. At age 23 Burrow may not have an experience edge in the game, though he seems to be as collected as they come. I’m really looking forward to watching this matchup.
What really has my attention these days is the current success of the West Virginia University Men’s Basketball Team. They rebounded from their loss at Kansas with wins at Oklahoma State and at home last Saturday against Texas Tech. Those wins were good enough to move the Mountaineers to 12th in the AP Top 25 this week. Big 12 foe Baylor moved to second in both polls with a road win at Kansas last Saturday.
The Mountaineers won’t see the Bears until February 15 in Waco and close out the regular season with Baylor on March 7. Oh, and both games are exclusively shown on ESPN+. Meanwhile WVU has plenty to improve on now despite their 13-2 record. The Mountaineers haven’t scored over 70 points in four games and the offense looks poor a lot of the time.
The upside to that is West Virginia’s half court defense is possibly as good as head coach Bob Huggins has had in his tenure at WVU. At least that is what it looks like now; there is way too much time in the season left to make too much noise about it. Nevertheless, even in the days of Press Virginia WVU was weak in half court defense.
Continued good defense will be needed until West Virginia can cut down their turnovers and improve their foul shooting. WVU could also benefit from Emmitt Matthews and Jermaine Haley returning to their early season form. Both players have been in and offensive funk for a while now. Starting point guard Jordan McCabe has been in a shooting funk all season. A promising shooter last season as a freshman, McCabe is currently 5-35 from behind the three-point line.
With those offensive issues in play, WVU has used the size and strength of twin towers Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe on the offensive glass to compensate for some of the missing offense. Then there’s freshman backup point guard Miles McBride who continues to impress.  McBride has helped pick up the scoring slack and is now averaging 10.1 points per game, but has tossed in over 20 points in two of the last four games. He’s also been decent from three-point land at 14-34.
After Tuesday’s home game with TCU, the Mountaineers travel to Kansas State this Saturday for a 2 p.m. game on ESPNU, then host Texas next Monday at 7 p.m., also on ESPNU.