MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins wasn’t happy about the performance of his young club in its first action of the season Friday, a 78-70 exhibition win over Duquesne.
“We just didn’t run anything,” Huggins said after the game. “We weren’t very good defensively. And for what I think we need to be to be a really good team, I thought we were horrible. One - rebounding the ball, two - from the free throw line and three - from three-point range.”
The Mountaineers had a 48-25 rebounding advantage against the Dukes, but the bar has already been set for the inside duo of sophomore Derek Culver and senior Logan Routt.
“Why wouldn’t I expect Derek to do what he did, at least do what he did a year ago?” Huggins said. “I think that’s fair. Why wouldn’t I expect Logan to make a tremendous jump when he has gotten a whole lot better, and neither one of those two were as active and got their hands on the balls that we really expect them to.”
Highly touted freshman Oscar Tshiebwe showed in his Mountaineer debut why he was a McDonald’s All-American, leading the team with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He shot an efficient 7 of 10 from the floor in 27 minutes of action.
“He does what everyone knew he could do,” Huggins said of Tshiebwe. “He rebounds it and scores around the rim. He misses free throws. I mean we all knew what he can do.”
Tshiebwe hails from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has only been in the country for a few years. He has only been playing basketball for a couple years and still has a lot to learn, according to Huggins.
“I knew I was going to have help,” Culver said after the game about Tshiebwe. “Battling with Oscar in practice and everything. Today, I felt like coach let Oscar stay out there and let him figure out things.”
Culver was a one-man show at points last season and getting some help from Tshiebwe has him in good spirits.
“I was happy for Oscar, I’m not going to lie,” Culver said. “He was out there doing his thing. Grabbing rebounds, flexing, doing all types of crazy things. So to see Oscar come out of his shell, that’s something I’m excited to see.”
Junior college transfers Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman showed signs of potential in their first game in a WVU uniform. Sherman had eight points, all coming in the first half. He shot 3 of 5 from the field and 1 of 3 from three-point range. McNeil got it going in the second half, ending the game with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 2 of 5 from behind the arc.
Sophomore Emmitt Matthews Jr. had a solid game as well, contributing 11 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Matthews led a sophomore group that is expected to carry much of the load this season.
Sophomore Jordan McCabe had a quiet game for his standards, finishing with three points on 1-of-2 shooting in only 13 minutes of action. He nailed a 3 early to give the Mountaineers a 12-2 lead, but was held off the score sheet for the remainder of the game.
Freshman Jalen Bridges, who is redshirting this season, showed his potential to the fans. He finished with four points and a rebound in only five minutes of playing time.
The Mountaineers will begin their season on Nov. 8 at the WVU Coliseum when they host the Akron Zips.