MORGANTOWN—Coming off of an incredible win against #2 Ohio State this past Sunday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, the WVU men’s basketball team took their newly-awarded #16 ranking to Kansas on Saturday, where the Mountaineers had never won in seven previous tries.
Despite outrebounding Kansas 44-30 (with 21 offensive rebounds) and getting 17 points and 17 rebounds from freshman standout Oscar Tshiebwe, the Mountaineers couldn’t navigate their way through the “Phog,” as Kansas’ arena is famously known, in a 60-53 loss to the Jayhawks.
After not scoring against Ohio State, Tshiebwe was stellar against the Jayhawks, helping his team put points on the board and holding Kansas to only 28 first-half points while dominating the glass.
“Oscar was very good doing what Oscar does,” stated WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “Offensively, on the glass, he was very good. Defensively, he tends to forget some things which is understandable.”
On two different occasions in the first half, the Mountaineers held 10-point leads only to have those leads wiped away by the eventual poor shooting from the field and the free throw line from some of their most important players.
Derek Culver, Emmitt Matthews Jr., Jermaine Haley, Taz Sherman, Miles McBride, and Chase Harler finished a combined 10-39 from the field, with McBride accounting for four of those goals. Brandon Knapper and Sean McNeil were a combined 0-5 while not providing much spark on the defensive side of the ball as well.
The Mountaineers were just as abysmal from the free throw line, only connecting on 12-22 shots (54.5%) from the charity stripe. The Jayhawks finished 19-30 (63.3%) from the line, just slightly less than their season average.
“We go 12 for 22 from the free throw line,” said a frustrated Huggins after the game. “It was because we have what you would think were bad free throw shooters up there, but they continue to miss them. And we continue to miss two at a time, which just blows my mind.”
Tshiebwe led the way for the Mountaineers with 17 points, while McBride’s 13 points were good for second-best. Although Culver’s 1-6 performance hurt WVU on the offensive side of the ball, he was able to snag 12 boards in the contest. Jordan McCabe had seven points on 3-5 shooting while also hitting a three. Five other Mountaineers finished with five points or less.
WVU (11-2) will be back in action on Monday when they head to Stillwater, Oklahoma to face off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-4). The Cowboys are coming off an 85-50 loss to Texas Tech on Saturday.
Tipoff is scheduled for 9:00pm from Gallagher-Iba Arena on the campus of OSU.