West Virginia’s dominant bench and inside play helped the 12th-ranked Mountaineers to a commanding victory over TCU on Tuesday, 81-49.
The first ten minutes were a slugfest with neither team able to get any offense going. After TCU got out to an 11-9 lead early, West Viginia took off for a 14-0 run which lasted exactly 4 minutes and came entirely from the Mountaineer bench.
Chase Harler was the backbone for that run, finishing the half with 7 points.
“Chase has been terrific,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “Normal people don’t understand how much Chase brings to the table for us. He’s been, in a lot of cases, our best defender on the floor. He’s made shots. He’s constantly telling other guys where to go and what to do. He’s been fantastic.”
West Virginia’s defense was particularly strong in the first half, holding TCU to 35 percent shooting for the period. The Mountaineers, on the other hand, sunk 58.8 percent of their shots.
That number got a little bump right before halftime when Sean McNeil sank a three-pointer from NBA range, boosting the Mountaineer lead to 37-23 at halftime.
Shots fell for both teams when they came out of the locker room, especially for TCU. The Horned Frogs scored a quick 10 points to WVU’s 7, but that wouldn’t be enough to cut into the Mountaineer lead.
Before long, Culver began to take the game over. The big man was perfect from the floor in the latter period and earned his fourth double-double of the season. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“I feel like we were really clicking on a cylinders today,” Culver said. “Because I feel like our guards were hitting big shots, bigs were doing what we do pretty well, such as like rebounding, kicking out and low-post scoring.”
His aggressive play proved to be an issue for TCU. Jaedon Ledee was the first Horned Frog to foul out, and one of many to hit foul trouble. Not long after, starting center Kevin Samuel would get called for his fifth, severely limiting Jamie Dixon’s options.
Oscar Tshiebwe also ramped up his offensive play in the second half, scoring 9 to get his total up to 11 for the game.
The crowd would get their wish in the final minutes, when a satisfied Huggins would give freshman guard Spencer Macke the nod.
RJ Nembhard led TCU in scoring with 14 points, while Desmond Bane wasn’t far behind with 13 of his own.
Ultimately, though, West Virginia’s bench would make the difference — the Mountaineers got 39 of their 81 points from their reserve players, compared to TCU’s 6.
Along with Tshiebwe and Culver, Jermaine Haley and Miles McBride would score 11 points to put 4 Mountaineers in double scoring figures for the game.
For their next contest, West Virginia hits the road once again to return to the Sunflower State for a matchup with Kansas State before returning home to face Texas on Monday.