Total Team Rebound As WVU Messes With Texas
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It was one play that defied description in a West Virginia game that also defied description, yet you had to describe both because they signified that two days after getting their corn popped in Kansas they were back.
Oh, were they back, punishing a Texas team that came to town with its horns down, WVU beating up on them, 97-59.
The win brought No. 14 WVU to 15-3, 4-2 in the conference, while Texas fell to 12-6, 2-4 in Big 12 play.
But back to the indescribable play by freshman Oscar Tshiebwe. A ball was about to go out of bounds on the Texas baseline when it was hurled back into the court, rolling the length of the floor.
Tshiebwe, who stands 6-9 and 258 pounds, could have just watched the ball roll. After all, WVU was ahead by more than 40 points so what the heck.
But there is no what the heck in Oscar Tshiebwe.
“The ball was off them, so we’re yelling at Oscar, ‘No, no, no!’” Jordan McCabe said. “But I think he was running too fast to hear anything. So he picks it up in the corner, takes one dribble, and I’m thinking he’s gonna get fouled. But he puts it on the guy’s head.”
All year we’d heard about his speed. Now he displayed it, going 75 or so feet and running the ball down in the right corner, then making a quick exit down the baseline, soaring high and slam dunking the ball over a defender foolish enough to challenge him.
“If that’s not No. 1 on SportsCenter tonight they ought to be taken off the air,” Matthews said.
“How could you describe it?” asked McCabe. “He made a quick break on it, ran two-thirds the way down the court, gobbled it up. That was so totally him, then he took one dribble went up and slammed it. It showed every kind of athleticism there is.”
But was it surprising that Tshiebwe would do that.
“No way,” said Matthews. “With Oscar it’s that way. He’s like a jitterbug. He loves playing basketball. Even at Ohio State, when he didn’t score, he was there dancing on the bench when we were putting the game away.
“He’s a kid who, if we get a pair of shoes for practice that no one wants to wear, he puts them on and goes out there.”
The play symbolized all that was West Virginia on this night after the Kansas State disaster.
“After the game the seniors and the leaders grabbed us kept us going,” McCabe said. “We felt our backs were up against the wall against Texas. Not many people thought we’d win. They’re a good team.”
That may be a bit of an overstatement but this team was ready for this game … and we mean team.
They played Final Four-like defense, helping at every turn, being physical, quick, inspired, totally frustrating everything Texas tried to do.
And offensively there was an awakening from Matthews, who scored eight points after having scored only 16 in past seven games, from McCabe, who reached double figures with 10 points for the first time this year and hit two of three from 3-point distance. He had been shooting 17.5 percent from there for the season.
“That was almost impossible for me to believe,” Coach Bob Huggins said.
And Taz Sherman, who was averaging just 3.5 points, had a big game with seven points, four assists and two rebounds, came to life while Logan Routt got extended playing time and scored nine points with five rebounds.
But the cherry on the cake came when walk-on Spencer Macke came off the bench with the crowd screaming for him, got his first 3-point shot blocked then hit a second one — the first of his college career and a shot that was a dream come true.
“That was bigger than my play,” Tshiebwe said. “Mine will be on TV, but he was more excited.”
And the ride on teammates shoulders?
“I didn’t think that would happen,” Macke admitted. “They just grabbed my legs and put me up there.”
That made it quite night for everyone, even the celebrities in the crowd — Sen. Joe Manchin, football Coach Neal Brown and Super Bowl hero quarterback Jeff Hostetler.