Four Mountaineers scored in double figures as West Virginia earned their first season-opening victory since 2016 over Akron, 94-84.
Jermaine Haley was the most efficient Mountaineer in the scoring department, making 6 of his 7 field goals for 16 points. He split his scoring evenly between the two halves, chipping in 8 points in each.
The Zips scored first and kept an early lead for a few minutes, but Emmitt Matthews got a hot hand early draining three consecutive shots from deep to put the Mountaineers in the lead.
Akron wasn’t out of it though, as they were kept alive by their three-pointers as well. Of the Zips’ first 7 buckets, 6 of them were from downtown, and two of them were made by Tyler Cheese.
Depth made the difference in the first half. West Virginia’s bench scored 17 points in the first half, as opposed to the Zips’ bench going scoreless. This disparity stayed right through the final buzzer, with the Mountaineer bench finishing with a 42-9 advantage.
The second half got a little sloppy for West Virginia. After giving up just 3 turnovers in the first half, they followed up in the second half with 11.
Akron was able to stay close until the end, outscoring the Mountaineers 51-47 in the second half, although WVU would hold on to get the win.
“I thought we did some good things, and I thought we did some bad things,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “I’ve said all along, I think we can shoot the ball….At times we go too fast, we go faster than we’re capable of going.”
Newcomers saw significant minutes and made immediate impacts for West Virginia. The trio of Oscar Tshiebwe, Deuce McBride and Taz Sherman combined for 15 points in the first half, with McBride providing an early boost off the bench.
West Virginia returns to the court next Friday against Pitt, when the Mountaineers will take on the Panthers in another edition of the Backyard Brawl in Pittsburgh.