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Morgantown, West Virginia – Say what you will about Oscar Tshiebwe, but he was the  most physical, dominating rebounder and defensive player that West Virginia has had since Sagaba Konate.

Tshiebwe, who moved on to play for the University of Kentucky, was exactly what the Mountaineers needed yesterday and is precisely the missing piece of the puzzle for the team right now.

Although Tshiebwe struggled offensively in his limited time with West Virginia this season, he would have made all the difference in the world in the game against Oklahoma State yesterday.  Oklahoma State scored fifty points on 24 layups and dunks, and they simply had no resistance from the Mountaineers in doing so.

The Cowboys basically walked into the lane and scored at will in the paint.  That would not have happened with Oscar Tshiebwe playing for the Mountaineers.  Tshiebwe isn’t an incredible shot-blocker in the same way that Sagaba Konate, Devin Williams and Elijah Macon were, but his effort and intensity make him a feared interior player.

In other words, teams would not simply be able to drive and score anytime they want against Oscar Tshiebwe.

Although the combination of (Derek) Culver and Tshiebwe never worked out like Bob Huggins hoped for on the offensive side of the ball, it was nearly impossible for any team in the country to match their size and intensity under the basket.

Culver has grown and seems more comfortable offensively since Tshiebwe’s departure, but his lack of effort and rim-protecting ability is abundantly clear.

It’s tough to admit that Oscar Tshiebwe leaving the team might cost the West Virginia Mountaineers a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and a potential National Championship, but unfortunately it appears that that could be the case.

All of West Virginia’s current weaknesses and issues would immediately be cured by Oscar Tsheibwe’s presence on the team.

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