The senior duo of Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil scored 29 points, including 17 in the second half to lift West Virginia over Oakland 60-53 in their season opener.
The Golden Grizzlies struggled to defend the Mountaineers cleanly, earning 22 foul calls with two of their players fouling out — including leadnig scorer Jamal Cain. WVU’s players, on the other hand, kept their hands to themselves largely, getting just 13 foul calls with no Mountaineer over three for the game.
Sherman was the leading scorer with 18, while McNeil added 11 — mostly in the second half. The clear backcourt leaders for the squad this year, Sherman and McNeil scored nearly half the Mountaineers’ points, but struggled from three-point range. The duo made just three of their 13 attempts, while the team sunk just 19 percent of their shots from deep.
“At the end of the day, we all know…who’s gonna take the most shots, but you want everyone else to like their shooting,” “Like [Jalen Bridges], he took three shots, he’s 3-for-7. I want him to get going early, I want Isaiah [Cottrell] to get going early, I want our young guards, we’ve gotta get them going early.”
Sherman did have an injury scare in the second half, but after the game, he shrugged it off as simple cramping.
The lead big man for WVU was Gabe Osabuohien. Normally a foul trouble headache for WVU coach Bob Huggins, Osabuohien actually drew more fouls than he committed. He forced seven fouls and drew five charges, while only recording fouls and adding six points.
“I think he has worked really hard since the exhibition game on not fouling, because he had a tendency to reach,” “Sometimes you get the ball, sometimes you get an arm. We really tried to work with him on not reaching.”
WVU did struggle up front, however, as they got dominated on the boards. Oakland out-rebounded the Mountaineers 48-33.
“We’re gonna rebound until we have black and blue butts tomorrow,” Huggins said. “We’re gonna block out and block out and block out and block out tomorrow.”
Oakland’s Micah Parrish was the motor on the glass, notching the game’s only double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Cain paced the Golden Bears with 15 points. Jalen Moore, the nation’s leader in assists last season, was held to just four points, four assists but committed 13 turnovers and shot just 2-of-16.
As a team, West Virginia forced 25 turnovers.
WVU next hits the court on Friday at home against Pitt in this year’s edition of the Backyard Brawl. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.