In the penultimate game of the regular season, No. 6 West Virginia picked up a 76-67 victory over TCU. Jalen Bridges led the way for the Mountaineers with a career-high 22 points in the Thursday night matchup.
Bridges started his night off hot with 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half leading the way for career-highs in points and rebounds for the redshirt freshman. Bridges had been averaging 5.3 points per game this season and 9.7 points per game in the previous two games.
“He’s really worked at it, he’s a guy who gets in the gym and works on what you ask him to work on,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “He knows what he can do and what he can’t, so he really tries to accentuate the positive and stay away from the negative.”
The last time the Mountaineers (18-7, 11-5 Big 12) played the Horned Frogs (12-12, 5-10 Big 12) the outcome was similar with the final score in that game being 74-66. Like the last game between these two, the Mountaineers were unable to put the game away.
“(TCU head coach) Jamie (Dixon) is a really good coach you have to give him a lot of credit and give his players a lot of credit,” Huggins said. “When we let down, they made shots.”
Gabe Osabuohien fouled out with over five minutes remaining in the game, forcing Culver to play the remainder of the game. Osabuohien’s last foul was a technical foul away from the ball that gave the Horned Frogs the opportunity to cut the lead to seven points.
“He continues to foul out, if you have any suggestions I’d be open to listening,” Huggins said. “You can’t do anything today, you get technical fouls today for looking at people the wrong way."
West Virginia grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, but was only able to score 11 second-chance points, with the majority of the opportunities coming at the rim.
“We were point-blank at the rim and did not score,” Huggins said. “We had how many scoring opportunities and did not score?”
Derek Culver scored 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting along with 7-of-9 from the free throw line. After his 17-point performance, Culver needs just eight points to eclipse the 1000 career point mark.
“He was anything but stellar today, although he did make his free throws,” Huggins said. “It’s about consistency if you want to go on and make money playing basketball, you have to bring it every day.”
Although WVU led for over 37 minutes in the game, Huggins was not impressed with his team’s output in the game.
“We did not have anyone bring it today,” Huggins said.
WVU will have a chance to play for second place in the Big 12 Saturday when the team hosts Oklahoma State.
“They inverted him (Cade Cunningham), put him on the post and he drop stepped and dunked it over a 6-foot-10 guy,” Huggins said of the upcoming matchup with Cade Cunningham. “I don’t know what to expect, he is a talented guy.”