While defense and rebounding largely looked better for the Hoyas, easy points off of fouls and turnovers let WVU make a final run for the W. Led by their stud big-man Derek Culver coming back from foul trouble, Culver’s offensive rebounding boosted the Mountaineers and showed why he’s so valuable to the No. 11 ranked team.
Moving forward for Georgetown, questions like: whether the Hoyas can sustain their intensity and take care of the ball for 40 minutes, whether Wahab and Pickett can stay out of foul trouble, and whether Patrick Ewing can find some better help on the bench, will be the key to whether Georgetown can be competitive in BIG EAST play.
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Jahvon Blair led Georgetown (1-2) with 19 points while Jamorko Pickett added 11. Pickett tied it at 62 with a basket in the lane, but West Virginia ended the game on an 18-9 run. The Mountaineers have won six of the last seven against the Hoyas.
Culver scored four straight points in less than a minute — including an offensive put back — that increased the Mountaineers’ lead from 65-62 to 69-62 during the decisive burst. The teams tied with 43 rebounds apiece but West Virginia attempted 33 free throws to just 15 for Georgetown.
The Hoyas were up to the challenge for about 30 minutes, but the Mountaineers continued to chop away until the interior weakened and Georgetown ultimately lost, 80-71.
“We did a great job of limiting their two big guys,” Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing said, referencing West Virginia forwards Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe. “But then we fouled so many times, and then we turned the ball over way too many times. For the most part, I thought we did a very good job defending. [They] came in as two of the most dominant bigs in the country. We did a very good job of digging, doubling and mixing up our coverages and limiting them.”
Georgetown opened up a six-point lead with sophomore center Timothy Ighoefe’s shot in the paint, but McBride answered with a three and found Tshiebwe down low on the next possession to draw West Virginia within 1. The Mountaineers continued their momentum, capping a 10-0 run with an alley-oop dunk from McBride to Matthews before Jalen Harris stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer. That would turn out to be the beginning of a 7-0 run for Georgetown, bookended by a three from Pickett.
West Virginia went back to what had worked for them all season, with baskets down low from Culver and Tshiebwe putting them back in the lead, 58-57. The Hoyas fought back and Ighoefe converted a three-point play with a slam dunk and the free throw after. Junior guard Sean McNeil drew a foul on freshman guard Dante Harris and tied the game at 60 with two free throws of his own. Matthews blew by Pickett and skied for the dunk over Ighoefe...
Ewing: "They intensified their relentlessness. One of the things we talked about this week was that it has to be a five-man effort. All five guys have to get on the glass."— Voice Sports (@GUVoiceSports) December 6, 2020
A game-ending 18-9 run propelled No. 11 West Virginia to their fourth victory in five games to open up the season, 80-71 at Georgetown in the Big 12/Big East Battle Sunday afternoon. The Mountaineers broke open a 62-all tie starting at the 6:30 mark of the second half with a 9-0 run. Five of the points came courtesy of Taz Sherman and four more came from Derek Culver. Sherman scored a dozen points in the game. Culver was held to three points in the first half and fought foul trouble in the second half to finish with 14 points and a team-high 9 rebounds.
“(Culver) kept bugging the heck out of me trying to get back in the game,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “I told him I need him at the end, particularly in light of the fact that Gabe (Osabuohien) got in foul trouble. We need one of those two guys on the floor.”
Georgetown’s two seven-footers were similarly aggressive on the offensive end. It was clearly a point of emphasis to attack West Virginia’s bigs, and this was successful, as Mountaineers star forward Derek Culver racked up two early fouls. With Culver limited to just four minutes in the first half, West Virginia was forced to adapt their offensive attack.
Sophomore guard Miles McBride picked up much of the slack, leading all scorers with 11 first half points.McBride was a problem all evening for the Hoyas, finishing the game with 17 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds to pace the Mountaineers in all three categories. West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins praised McBride’s play, saying after the game, “He’s a smart kid, he’s a great kid, he listens and tries to do what you ask him to do, and consequently he continues to get better.”
Ewing emphasized his team has only played three games this season, but the performances have been mixed. In a loss to Navy, Cam Davis and John Carter scored 48 points combined for the Midshipmen, overcoming a Georgetown squad that turned the ball over 13 times. Turnovers surfaced again Sunday, with the Hoyas giving the ball away 15 times compared to West Virginia’s five. Eight of those giveaways came from Jalen Harris and Donald Carey — two graduate transfers.
“I’m not even sure what to do to fix it,” Ewing said postgame. “We talk about it, we watch film and talk about it, we drill on things. They just got to make better decisions.” But considering the offseason disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the team meshing over Zoom calls rather than during summer workouts, Ewing isn’t terribly surprised, either. With a team full of new faces, there will be learning curves.
“We can’t continue to turn the ball over at this alarming rate. Also, they shot 33 free throws. That’s where the game is – right there. If we did a better job of not fouling, and not turning the ball over, everything else was equal. We did a great job of limiting their two big guys, but then we fouled too many times and we turned the ball over way too many times.” Head Coach Patrick Ewing on what the difference of the game was
“For the most part, I thought we did a really good job of defending. They came in with two of the most dominant bigs in the country. We did a very good job of digging, doubling and mixing up our coverages and limiting them.” Head Coach Patrick Ewing’s thoughts on the team’s post defense...
Three Hoyas scored in double-figures, led by Jahvon Blair with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 5-for-12 from 3-point range. Jamorko Pickett added 11 points and eight rebounds while Chudier Bile chipped in 10 off the bench.
Emmitt Matthews Jr. exploded for 13 points for his best scoring performance of the season as West Virginia earned an impressive road victory against Georgetown. https://t.co/u7z9JNEuAz— The DA Sports (@TheDASports) December 7, 2020
There were certainly still shortcomings on Sunday, particularly in perimeter defense, where Georgetown canned 11 3-pointers in keeping pace until the final stretch. That stretch though, was among the best the Mountaineers have played all season, complete with defensive stops, rebounding and big shots.
“We need to play a whole lot more together, which during that run I think we did,” Huggins said. “Derek got hard rebounds, Oscar made some tough baskets inside, Deuce [McBride] was good at the offensive end as well and Taz [Sherman] hit a huge shot for us in transition to kind of get us going. I thought that was a team thing that hopefully carries over to the rest of the year.”
The action continued in the second half with Georgetown building on their 34-32 halftime lead, eventually growing it to a 50-44 lead at the 13:33 mark before the Mountaineers went on a 10-0 run sparked by another McBride three pointer. The Hoyas would erase the lead with a 7-0 run of their own, taking a 57-54 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game. However, that lead was quickly erased by a 13-2 run by the Mountaineers to pull ahead, opening up a 9 point lead at 71-62 with 3:20 remaining. West Virginia closed the game on a 5-0 run of made free throws to seal the deal.
ALMOST HEAVEN: Hoyas Relinquish Challenge to No. 11 West Virginia https://t.co/Wfql45V2Et— Casual Hoya (@CasualHoya) December 7, 2020
For 33 minutes Sunday, the Hoyas went toe-to-toe with West Virginia. The home club held a 34-32 halftime lead, and weathered a 10-0 WVU run early in the second half to come back and tie the game at 60-60 with 6:30 remaining. But the Mountaineers went on another dash, this of the 17-6 variety over the next six minutes, to secure the victory.
A number of Mountaineers had a hand in that decisive spurt. Emmitt Matthews had an individual flurry, which included a couple dunks, Deuce McBride’s hustle, especially in poking away a ball, set the tone, and Derek Culver also came up big in the paint.
“There were a lot of plays in that stretch,” said Huggins. “(McBride’s dive to try to get a steal) was a big play, but there were a lot of them in that stretch. Derek went up and got a rebound between two guys that was a man’s rebound. Emmitt made some plays as well...Deuce knocking the ball into the backcourt forced them to take a hurried shot, which got us possession of the ball. That was all part of the run that kind of put the game out of reach.”