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Mountaineers Adjust in Second Half, Defense and McNeil Arrive Just in Time

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Following a slow start in both halves, West Virginia was able to adjust in the second half, defeating Clemson 66-59, to win third place in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic.

With this win, WVU head coach Bob Huggins moves solely into the No. 4 most winningest coaches of all-time. Huggins tied Roy Williams with the win against Elon on Thursday, but now passes Williams with win No. 904.

West Virginia (4-1) didn’t seem to learn anything from the Marquette game, as they allowed wide-open shots. Clemson (4-2) started the game shooting 5-of-6 from the field.

That all changed once Gabe Osabuohien checked into the game.

Osabuohien’s defensive presence gave the Mountaineers the energy to go on an 11-2 run mid-way through the first half. The run was capped off by a Taz Sherman three-pointer that gave WVU their first lead of the night.

With a fatigued Osabuohien running up and down the floor, the fifth-year senior gave it his all for West Virginia. Osabuohien finished with four points, seven rebounds, four assists and a charge drawn.

Toward the end of the half, transfer guard Malik Curry gave the Mountaineers a 5-0 run by himself to take the lead before the end of the half.

WVU led by only one point at halftime, 35-34.

The first few minutes in the second half were deja vu for West Virginia. Clemson started 6-of-6 shooting from the field out of the break. As the Tigers shot the ball well in the beginning of the second half, WVU did exactly the opposite. The Mountaineers shot 3-of-15 in the second half until the 10 minute mark.

What WVU needed is Sean McNeil. With 10:12 left in the second half, McNeil made his first basket of the game. Then, McNeil proceeded to keep scoring: a layup, a three-pointer and two mid-range jumpers put WVU in a good position to stay competitive.

McNeil finished with a team-high of 13 points, after being held to a scoreless first half.

Two Kedrian Johnson free-throws gave West Virginia a 58-56 lead with under three minutes left. This was the first lead for WVU since the beginning of the second half.

With 30 seconds left and up by three, a driving layup by Curry gave the Mountaineers a two-possession lead.

As Clemson tried to mount a comeback late in the game, the Tigers threw six players on the floor, resulting in a technical foul, giving the Mountaineers a two-possession lead with 17 seconds in the game.

West Virginia went on to hold the lead and win the game. WVU won its first rebounding battle of the season, out-rebounding the Tigers 31-27.

West Virginia will head back to Morgantown to prepare for a Black Friday date with Eastern Kentucky. Mountaineers will tip-off with EKU at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

(Top Photo: Julia Mellett – WVSN)

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Ethan Bock is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in journalism at WVU. He currently is an intern with the Final Fourcast podcast. Ethan has covered WVU football and men’s basketball for the last year with Blue Gold Sports — an USA Today credentialed outlet. He is from Cincinnati, OH.

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