Morgantown, West Virginia – West Virginia’s loss today at Oklahoma was disappointing for a couple of reasons. It would have been nice to win the game following Oscar Tshiebwe’s sudden departure from the team. It would have shown that the Mountaineers were going to be just fine without Tshiebwe and would have been a huge confidence booster.
The Mountaineers were so close to completing a rally from a 18 point first half deficit to beat a very solid Big 12 team on the road. Winning any game on the road in the Big 12 is not an easy task.
Despite the disappointments and negatives from the game, West Virginia had one bright, promising aspect from the loss. Redshirt freshman Jalen Bridges proved that he can compete at a high level and be a very productive player in West Virginia’s starting lineup.
In his first start of his career, Bridges finished with 19 points on 7-9 from the field and 5-6 from three point range. In addition, he added 3 rebounds and 2 steals for the Mountaineers.
Bob Huggins wasn’t surprised by his productivity. “He’s gotten better and better and better. I’ve been amazed, really, on how much better he’s gotten. His attitude towards practice and the way he approaches things has absolutely been terrific,” Huggins said.
Huggins also has referred to Bridges as one of the best players in practice for the Mountaineers and one of the team’s best offensive rebounders.
With Oscar Tshiebwe leaving the team and freshman forward Isaiah Cottrell out for the season with a torn Achilles’ heel, West Virginia suddenly went from a team with incredible interior depth to a team that will rely on young players to produce.
Jalen Bridges proved today that he’s just the player to step in and fill the void left by Tshiebwe and Cottrell. Not only is Bridges an incredible teammate, he’s a very smooth player that can shoot, get to the rim, finish and rebound. For a freshman, he’s tremendously polished.
Bridges’ debut in the starting lineup today was only the beginning to what will be a long and exceptional career in Morgantown!