The West Virginia Mountaineers are down 37-31 to the Ohio State Buckeyes at halftime, but the game should be far more out of reach for West Virginia. The officiating has been bad, of course, but Ohio State is an outstanding, complete team deserving of their ranking.
The major issue with West Virginia right now is hanging onto the basketball. Anytime the ball is passed into the post, the West Virginia big men take a dribble and then it’s quickly stolen. Derek Culver (in particular) needs to concentrate on having strong hands in the post or he’s really not going to be worth going to. West Virginia needs Culver to be an offensive interior presence and right now he’s not.
I’m not sure that Jordan McCabe should be playing at all right now. Shooting 23% from the field and 13% from three point range this season, he looks lost and doesn’t add a lot of positives for the Mountaineers. He’s playing scared and in big games like this one he’s a real detriment both offensively and defensively.
Miles McBride, on the other hand, has been absolutely spectacular in the first half, scoring 10 points on 3-6 from the field and 2-3 from three. The Freshman point guard appears to be the only player that Bob Huggins can rely on to score at times right now. Brandon Knapper has improved so much since last year, he’s confident and steady, and should continue to get minutes alongside McBride in the second half.
Gabe Osabuohien is an excellent big body off the bench, but offensively he is out of control and needs to focus on his role as a “trash man” for the Mountaineers. Any attempt at an offensive move is a negative.
Huggins must get driving opportunities for Emmitt Matthews, Jr. and Jermaine Haley to have a chance in the second half. To do this, he has to spread the court and hit Matthews or Haley coming off screens. Ohio State’s defense is incredibly tough and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of other scoring opportunities available.
This is a winnable game for the Mountaineers if they play better perimeter defense, attack with Matthews and Haley, and find a way to get Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe involved.