McNeil’s near-perfect second half lifts WVU over Youngstown State

Gold and Blue Nation

After rough first half, WVU's offense explodes to squash Penguins

West Virginia men’s basketball ended the 2021 calendar year with its biggest margin of victory of the season thus far, defeating Youngstown State 82-52 at the WVU Coliseum on Wednesday.

WVU played another game of two halves, struggling through the first half before turning on the gas in the second and more than doubling their offensive output to earn a decisive win.

Both teams lacked offense in the first half, combining at one stretch to make one of 22 shots. Youngstown State was on top through most of the half behind a push from Myles Hunter, who led the half with nine points.

All week, Bob Huggins has wanted more aggression out of forward Jalen Bridges, and he got it in the first half — the Fairmont Senior alumnus led WVU in the opening period with six points and seven rebounds.

As a team, however, the Mountaineers just could not get points on the board. WVU took a one-point lead into the halftime break after scoring just 24 points on 23 percent shooting.

The second half was a familiar story for the Mountaineers, as Taz Sherman started to take the game over right out of the gate. He made WVU’s first two field goals with a pair of three-pointers, making his first two attempts of the game. He finished with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Thus began the race between Mountaineers — Sean McNeil found his stroke as well in the second half, starting a perfect 4-for-4 from deep as he competed with Sherman for the game’s lead in points.

In fact, McNeil took the game over in the final 20 minutes, notching all 23 of his points in that span while missing just one field goal attempt.

WVU also got a double-digit scoring night from Malik Curry, who added 12 points, four assists and four rebounds from the guard position. Bridges finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

Chris Shelton led the Penguins with 13 points to go along with four rebounds and an assist. Michael Akuchie was the only other Youngstown State player in double figures with 10 points.

Youngstown State’s record falls to 7-4 overall as it returns to its slate in the Horizon League. The Mountaineers improve to 11-1 on the season as they turn their attention to Big 12 play, which begins on New Years Day at Texas.

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