West Virginia men’s basketball is heading home with some hardware after defeating Western Kentucky 70-64 in the finals of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic on Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Derek Culver was once again the leader for the 15th-ranked Mountaineers on the offensive end, tallying 15 points on the day as his squad remains undefeated with a 3-0 record.
This win was far from a sure thing for WVU, and that showed right from the opening tip. The first half was a slugfest on the scoreboard, with 12 lead changes and six ties. The largest lead of the half belonged to West Virginia at just 5 points, but the Hilltoppers answered by closing that game with a 5-0 run of their own.
Foul trouble struck Culver and frontcourt counterpart Oscar Tshiebwe early. Culver had just 4 points in 12 minutes, while Tshiebwe scored just three in five minutes of play.
On the bright side before the break, West Virginia kept star WKU big man Charles Bassey quiet with just 2 points in the half.
The good news stopped there, however. Taveion Hollingsworth scored the bulk of his 13 points in the first half and was part of a massive backcourt performance that gave WKU a three-point lead at halftime.
WKU kept the momentum coming out of the locker room, starting with a 9-2 run. That momentum swung swiftly in West Virginia’s favor, however, when the Mountaineers went on a 23-5 run, taking the lead at the 8:39 mark. They held on to that lead until the final buzzer.
WVU’s backcourt gave a big boost to the Mountaineer offense behind the arc. Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil both connected from deep in the second half, helping WVU to a 41.7 clip from deep. The duo combined for 21 points in the contest.
Deuce McBride also found his stroke in the second half, scoring 9 of his 15 points in that period.
Culver began to assert his dominance after the break as well, scoring 11 second-half points to emerge as WVU’s leading scorer. He did it without his typically imposing presence on the glass, grabbing just one board in the game.
The battle between Culver and WKU center Charles Bassey was one of the most highly-anticipated showdowns of the tournament. Like his opponent, Bassey struggled in the opening half with just two points. He found his stride in the second, though, and finished with a team-high 15 points and 8 rebounds.
Much of that rebounding was made up by Tshiebwe and Gabe Osabuohien, who grabbed seven and eight rebounds respectively.
This victory is West Virginia’s third of the season, and the 884th of Huggins’s career. The Mountaineers next head to Indianapolis to face No. 1 Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday.