MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins spoke often about how well he thought this Mountaineer team could shoot throughout the preseason.
That shooting ability never manifested through the team’s first five games, however, and was certainly not on display when the Mountaineers hosted North Texas on Friday. WVU scored just 21 points in the first half against the Mean Green on 25.7% percent shooting.
Facing No. 19 Richmond on Sunday with just two days ‘ rest, however, WVU’s offense finally flashed the potential Huggins talked about before the season. The No. 11 Mountaineers (6-1) defeated No. 19 Richmond (4-1), 87-71, in the WVU Coliseum. It was the best offensive output from the Mountaineers this season, scoring 87 points and shooting 58.1 percent, 57.1 percent from three.
After a middling start to the game, the Mountaineers came alive during the final seven minutes of the first half. From the 7:07 mark onwards, WVU outscored the Spiders 29-10, shooting 13 of 16 from the floor and 3 of 5 from three-point range.
A slower second half for the Mountaineer offense allowed Richmond to fight its way back into the game. The Spiders cut WVU’s lead down to 16 with under five minutes to play, but could never get any closer as the Mountaineers cruised to their sixth victory of the season.
WVU sophomore Miles “Deuce” McBride led all scorers with 20 points on 9 of 11 shooting with five assists and three steals. Guards Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman joined McBride in the backcourt, scoring 12 and 15 points, respectively. McBride (two), McNeil (two), and bench guard Jordan McCabe (two) all made multiple three-pointers as well.
Big men Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver both scored in double figures for the second time this season. Tshiebwe finished with 12 points and five rebounds and Culver had 10 and 11. WVU held advantages in assists (22 to 13), turnovers (16 to 11), points off turnovers (19 to 12), bench points (27 to 15) and points in the paint (36 to 28).
Richmond was led in scoring by senior Nathan Cayo (14 points) and sophomore Tyler Burton (14).
The Mountaineers will enjoy a five-day break before starting Big 12 play against Iowa State on Friday. The Mountaineers and Cyclones will tip-off at 9 p.m. on Friday at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.