A 50-point half by the 14th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers pushed them to a victory over Missouri in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday, 74-51.
After letting an early first-half lead slip before halftime, the Mountaineers dominated the Tigers after the break to help Bob Huggins earn career win no. 876.
The first half began with the table tilted seemingly in West Virginia’s favor. Oscar Tshiebwe led the Mountaineers to an early 14-point lead, keeping Mizzou’s scoring total in single-digits for a majority of the period.
Things shifted at about the 8-minute mark when the Tigers, who are one of the top free throw shooting teams in the SEC, started getting to the charity stripe. They not only knocked down their free throws, but made a few three-pointers to quickly get back within a possession.
By halftime, the Mountaineers’ lead — which was as high as 14 points — dwindled to just a point.
“We just kind of stopped playing,” Huggins said. “They started making some shots, they struggled to make shots early, and we just kind of stopped playing. It gave them too many opportunities.”
The second half got off to a similar start to the first, with the Mountaineers establishing an early lead. West Virginia started off the half on a 23-2 run, to which 7 different scorers contributed.
The Mountaineer lead got as high as 29 points in the last period of play behind a scoring explosion from Deuce McBride, whose 15 points led the Mountaineers along with Jermaine Haley.
The student section was satisfied with 3:26 left in the game, and so began the chants calling for freshman walk-on Spencer Macke. He entered the game less than a minute later and would subsequently make his second three-pointer of the season.
In total, the Mountaineers would score 50 points in the second half.
West Virginia had a +20 margin on the boards, especially on the offensive glass. The Mountaineers turned 21 offensive rebounds into 27 second-chance points, which, with a dysmal 16-for-28 mark at the line, helped create scoring opportunities.
Much of that rebounding came from Derek Culver and Gabe Osabuohien, who each had double-digit rebounds with 11 and 12 respectively. Oscar Tshiebwe grabbed 8 boards to go along with his 14 points.
The Mountaineers got 37 points from their bench, with Taz Sherman chipping in 9 points — just one away from his season high.
The 876th victory for Huggins is a milestone one for the coach, tying him with legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and moving him to the seventh-winningest coach all-time.
“I used to sit there and listen to my dad, and my dad’s one of the winningest coaches in Ohio high school,” Huggins said. “They used to say to him, you know, ‘That was win number whatever and you just tied so-and-so,’ and his response was, ‘Man, that just means I’m old.'”
Next up, the Mountaineers hit the road for a rematch with No. 18 Texas Tech. That contest tips off on Wednesday at 8 p.m.