West Virginia men’s basketball earned a 74-59 victory over Akron on Friday in a charity exhibition to close out the preseason.
The Mountaineers got a massive boost from guard Taz Sherman, who notched 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Sherman was the clear star for a WVU squad that otherwise struggled in the exhibition clash, as they let the Zips back into the game late in the second half.
“We played well in spurts. The fifth-year guard Taz was really, really good,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “The bad was we didn’t continue to play. We let up. I thought our defense early on was pretty good, and then it wasn’t any good. I thought we rebounded well early, then we didn’t rebound at all. We must be a whole lot more consistent.”
Sherman and Jalen Bridges tag-teamed the Mountaineers’ first several possessions, sinking the team’s first five shots to WVU out to an early lead. As halftime appraoched, West Virginia led by 20, and eventually took a 15-point lead into the locker room for the break.
The Mountaineers kept building on their lead into the break, peaking at 32 points early in the second half as they put together a 17-4 run. The Zips flipped a switch, though, and began whittling their deficit down, ultimately getting within 15 at the final buzzer.
Sherman was the only real hot hand for the Mountaineers, despite playing just 21 minutes in the game. Sean McNeil led the team in minutes, but added just 10 points as the only double-digit scorer while shooting just 33 percent from the field.
“Sean struggled today, but Sean’s not gone,” Huggins said. “I don’t think he’s going to have a lot of days like that.”
Isaiah Cottrell played his first extended minutes since suffering a season-ending injury last season. He scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds as he played his first game in front of an unconstricted WVU Coliseum crowd. Bridges also got his first taste of the Mountaineer faithful, adding seven points and five boards.
Freshman Kobe Johnson played 23 minutes in his unofficial Mountaineer debut, leading the newcomers with eight points.
The Mountaineers open their regular season on Nov. 9 when they host Oakland. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.