Three games in three days in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, culminated in a comeback win for West Virginia men’s basketball, defeating Western Kentucky 70-64. The Mountaineers claimed the first-ever Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic to start the 2020-21 season.
Unfortunately, the trophy isn’t a massive mower, nor do the players or coaches take home a mower, but the trophy comes back to Morgantown with the Mountaineers. The prize, really, is overcoming the adversity of playing a Thanksgiving tournament with no warmup, having to prepare for three different opening-game opponents, and navigating a location change from The Bahamas to South Dakota. Needless to say, the team feels relieved to claim the title.
The Hilltoppers amassed a 10-point lead early in the second half, but WVU was able to chip -way at the lead and eventually overcame the deficit and win.
Naturally, the Mountaineers (3-0) made things hard on themselves from the start. Both Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver committed two fouls early and starting guard Miles McBride sat the middle of the half with a foul as well.
Oscar Tshiebwe already has two early fouls. That's clearly becoming an issue for him in the young season.— Jared Serre (@JaredSerre) November 27, 2020
Or... has consistently been a problem.
Defensively, WVU seemed unable to communicate switches and cuts by the Hilltoppers.
Just feels like one of those games where our denial and pressure defense hurts us. I believe Western Kentucky has made two jump shots. All off the dribble and backdoor cut layups and tip ins.— N Arthur (@NarthurD) November 27, 2020
Despite narrowly holding a lead for much of the half, WVU saw WKU take the lead at the under-four minutes timeout. The Hilltoppers took a 36-33 lead into the half
A total of 24 of the 36 Western Kentucky points have come right at the rim.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) November 27, 2020
WKU jolted to a 45-35 lead to start the second half and WVU’s bigs looked timid around the rim.
i will say this about @WKUBasketball, they are a good team and rick stansberry is wildly underrated as a coach— Andy Facemire (@StatsBoyAndi) November 27, 2020
They might could win Conference USA.
Huggins called an early timeout and, from that point, the Mountaineers seemed more confident and tenacious on defense. Also, WKU’s leading scorer Taveion Hollingsworth picked up an injury to his left hand and played the rest of the game with it wrapped.
Attack the hole and you’ll be rewarded.— Bart (@BartimusPrime19) November 27, 2020
Finally, WVU leveled the game and Taz Sherman drained a three-pointer to put his team in front 55-52 at the under-eight time out. At that point, WKU’s Charles Bassey exited the game with an apparent injury and Hollingsworth seemed to injure his hand again.
Sean McNeil extended WVU’s lead to 64-55 with a three and Stansberry called a timeout immediately after.
Western Kentucky should have taken that timeout five minutes ago.— Western Virginia (@SmithFire13) November 27, 2020
After that timeout, WKU whittled down the lead to just four as the clock rolled to 1 minute left, but WVU was able to close out the game...
Need to bring this one home. Let’s see how WVU handles WKU pressure. Need good passers here— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) November 27, 2020
Kinda. After an overturned out-of-bounds call, McBride drew a foul and cashed in the two free throws, sealing the game for WVU.
Culver was named tournament MVP and Gabe Osabuohien and McBride joined him on the All-Tournament team.
I mean... maybe? Crossover Classic is an awesome tournament name.
WVU is scheduled to take on No. 1 Gonzaga on Wednesday, Dec. 3, in Indianapolis.