By: Ethan Fuller
BOSTON, MA — Three days after pulling off a historic upset against South Carolina, Boston University men’s basketball received a sobering reality check from West Virginia University.
The Mountaineers (4-0) took care of business at home against the Terriers (3-3) in a decisive 69-44 contest. BU shot just 32.7 percent from the floor and 30 percent from deep in their lowest scoring output of the young 2019-20 season.
The Terriers simply could not overcome the length and discipline of West Virginia’s defense. After watching the Gamecocks struggle against smart backdoor cuts by BU for most of Tuesday’s matchup, the Mountaineers clearly emphasized shutting those down and did so. They also trapped BU ball-handlers quickly and effectively, forcing numerous difficult passes and generating steals.
Turnovers became the most glaring discrepancy of the night. The Terriers committed 22 (double their total against South Carolina) to WVU’s 13 and scored only four points off turnovers — a small number that shrinks even more when compared to West Virginia’s 25 points.
Starting halves also proved troubling for BU, who had previously put together some strong second half outbursts in recent games. This time an 11-0 WVU run to open the matchup and a 10-0 push out of halftime made separate demoralizing statements.
Offensively, the sheer size of the Mountaineers’ roster made them a difficult test. Five-star freshman and 6-9, 258-pound center Oscar Tshiebwe was the story of the night. The bruising big man scored 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds and added three steals and two blocks.
Jermaine Haley and Derek Culver also reached double figures for West Virginia. They played hard inside as well, contributing to the 48 points scored by the Mountaineers in the paint.
Despite the rout, BU can still take away some positives from Friday’s contest. Sophomore sharpshooter Jonas Harper was one of two Terriers to hit the ten-point marker, along with Walter Whyte’s team-high 13. Harper has found his perimeter stroke during the past two games, shooting 50 percent from deep over that span after struggling to open the season.
The Terriers also held both of their high-major opponents to a combined 6-of-40 clip from beyond the arc. While some of this is because the two teams are not strong in the shooting department, the 15 percent conversion rate is helped partially by BU contesting shots well and forcing shooters out of their rhythm.
Next up is Cancun for the Terriers, who can bounce back from the loss against Northern Colorado. The Bears (2-3) played West Virginia close in their 69-61 loss and have beaten some smaller schools this season. Sophomore guard Bodie Hume leads the way in scoring, averaging 17.6 points per game thus far.
With the change in time zones, this Tuesday matchup is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off.
Featured image courtesy of Hannah Yoshinaga.