Despite trailing by nine points with just over eight minutes remaining, the West Virginia Mountaineers (10-1) stole a quality win over the UAB (9-3) in front of nearly 8,500 fans in Birmingham, Alabama, handing the Blazers their first home loss of the season, 65-59.
UAB came into the game a slight favorite and immediately looked the part, opening up an early 14-4 lead at the 13:23 mark. West Virginia’s defensive efforts led to the Mountaineers chipping away at the lead over the ensuing ten minutes, with WVU going on a 16-4 run to reclaim a 20-18 lead with 4:16 remaining in the half.
The two teams traded buckets and the lead over the final four minutes of the half, but Blazers controlled a 29-26 lead at the half.
Taz Sherman, who was held to just two points in the first half, closed it to a one point lead out of the half, but UAB would answer with two quick 4-0 and 5-0 runs to take a 40-31 lead with 14:42 remaining.
West Virginia would fight their way back to a three point deficit, 52-49, with just over five minutes to play, before Sean McNeil hit a beautiful turnaround jumper to close the lead to one point.
McNeil would give WVU the lead with a pair of made free throws with 2:36 on the clock, and Sherman followed with a dagger three to extend the lead to four with 1:52 to play.
West Virginia sealed the game at the charity stripe, despite being ranked near the bottom of all NCAA Division I programs in free throw percentage.
Taz Sherman led the Mountaineers again with 17 points, 15 of which were scored in the second half. Sean McNeil added 12 points and Kedrian Johnson chipped in 9. Gabe Osabuohien finished with 6 points, 9 rebounds.
COMING UP NEXT
The Mountaineers will return home for one last game before Big 12 Conference play begins on New Years Day. They’ll take on the Youngstown State Penguins on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 6:00PM ET, and the game will be exclusively broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.