MORGANTOWN — The Mountaineers men’s basketball team took care of business beating the Akron Zips, 74-59, Friday night at the WVU Coliseum in an exhibition game put on for charity. All proceeds from the game went to benefit the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund.
West Virginia started the game with a 7-0 run to establish an early lead against the Zips—one that they never relinquished. WVU led by as many as 20 in the first half, led by senior Taz Sherman, who started off scorching hot, scoring 20 points in the 20 minutes during the opening half. While, Akron had managed to narrow the deficit to 15 by the end of the first half, WVU still held a commanding 39-24 lead at halftime.
The Mountaineers built their lead back to over 20 points early in the second half, which held steady until the final minutes of the game when Akron was able to chip away at the lead, only losing by a final tally of 15 points, 74-59.
In their first action since the departure of Miles “Deuce” McBride (NBA/New York Knicks) and Derek Culver (NBA G-League/Fort Wayne Mad Ants), Taz Sherman seemed to be the Mountaineers go-to option offensively. He added nine more points to his total in the second half, bringing his tally on the night to 29, while going an efficient 10-14 from the field.
Sharpshooter Sean McNeil, despite his off night going 4-12 from the field and just 2-6 from deep, managed to score 10 points and was the only other Mountaineer in double figures.
Overall, this was a dominating showing from the WVU men’s basketball team over a talented Akron team, a squad that returns three starters from last season’s team who finished the year with a 15-8 mark. The Mountaineers never trailed the Zips in this one.
“Press Virginia” looked to be back in full effect as WVU’s versatile defenders managed to make Akron look uncomfortable all night, forcing 20 turnovers, while committing just 11 of their own. The Mountaineers generated 28 points off the extra possessions they received by hounding Akron.
One possible area of concern for the Mountaineers during this exhibition game was that they struggled to rebound the ball effectively, an oddity for a Bob Huggins’ coached team. Akron outrebounded WVU 36-32 on the night. This group lacks a traditional bruising big man in the paint and will have to make rebounding the ball a concerted team effort if they hope to match last year’s success.
The Mountaineers, who finished 19-10 last year, look to start their 2021-22 regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 when they host the Oakland University Golden Grizzles. The season’s opening game is scheduled for tipoff at 7 p.m. and the broadcast will be available to stream on ESPN+.