Taz Sherman’s career-high in points helped West Virginia men’s basketball top Elon 87-68 to open the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C. on Thursday.
WVU pulled off its first wire-to-wire victory of the season as the Mountaineers dominated the inside. WVU won its first rebounding battle of the campaign as it grabbed 39 to Elon’s 33, plus they scored 36 points in the paint — making up 41 percent of the team’s scoring.
The Mountaineers started off strong, building a double-digit lead for several minutes in the first half — getting out as much as 15 points in front of Elon. The Phoenix hung in there, though, and whittled its deficit down to single digits by halftime.
WVU got early contributions from Sherman and guard Sean McNeil, a duo which combined for 24 first-half points. Elon’s shooting did pose an early threat, though, as the Phoenix knocked down 42 percent of its three-pointers — mostly from Hunter Woods, who made a trio of threes and a pair of free throws in the first half.
West Virginia came out in the second half and took advantage of an Elon cold streak to get back out by 15, and it never looked back. In fact, the Mountaineers’ final 19-point lead was their largest of the contest.
Sherman broke his personal best, logging 27 points on 52.9 percent shooting, while adding two rebounds and five assists. McNeil also ended with a double-digit night with 16 points, four boards and an assist.
WVU’s Pauly Paulicap led WVU with six rebounds despite playing just eight minutes. 6-10 redshirt freshman big man Isaiah Cottrell also made a significant contribuption, adding nine points and five rebounds, while sinking a three-pointer in a career-high 21 minutes on the floor.
Torrence Watson paced the Phoenix with 15 points and seven rebounds. He was one of five double-figure scorers, along with Woods (11), Hunter McIntosh (13), Darius Burford (12) and Zac Ervin (11).
With the win, Bob Huggins ups his career win count to 903. That ties him with former Kansas and North Carolina great Roy Williams for fourth all-time, trailing just Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski.
West Virginia earned itself a second round matchup with Shaka Smart’s Marquette squad on Friday. The Eagles earned its spot in the winners’ bracket after coming back to defeat Ole Miss in the first round, just before WVU earned its win on the same court.
Tip-off between WVU and Marquette is set for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.