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NCAAB: Sputtering West Virginia gets past Oakland

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West Virginia overcame a slow start and poor shooting to open its season with a 60-53 victory over Oakland on Tuesday evening in Morgantown, W.Va.

Bob Huggins, who began his 40th season as a head coach, matched wits with good friend Greg Kampe, who started his 38th year at Oakland.

The Mountaineers, whose 2020-21 NCAA Tournament appearance was their 10th in 14 seasons under Huggins, entered looking for new scoring options and returned guards Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil. However, it was veteran Gabe Osabuohien who consistently provided West Virginia a much-needed spark on both ends of the floor with charges taken and offensive boards. He finished with six points and nine rebounds.

Sherman topped West Virginia with 18 points and five assists. McNeil finished with 11 points and five rebounds.

Oakland preseason All-Horizon League point guard Jalen Moore struggled from the floor, going just 2 of 16. He finished with four points, four assists and six rebounds. Marquette transfer Jamal Cain picked up the offensive slack, leading the team with 15 points before fouling out. Trey Townsend scored 12 points and Micah Parrish had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

West Virginia struggled early on against Oakland’s energetic 1-3-1 zone defense. The Golden Grizzlies also outrebounded the hosts 26-19 in the first half, and Oakland had the lead for much of the first 20 minutes.

Both teams struggled from 3-point range, as Sherman hit the game’s first long-distance shot with 5:32 left in the first half. The teams combined to go 3 of 22 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, and both squads shot below 35 percent overall from the floor.

The Mountaineers opened the second half with the amped-up energy that they displayed in the latter portion of the first, getting defensive contributions across the board. They were also able to better navigate the Oakland zone, particularly Sherman. Despite some offensive woes returning, West Virginia was able to hold off an Oakland rally.

–Field Level Media

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