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Much-changed WVU basketball to open versus Akron

By Staff | Sep 27, 2019


SHEPHERDSTOWN — With six new faces and seven holdovers from last season’s 15-21 team, West Virginia basketball will have five non-conference games in the Coliseum, as well as road or neutral site games outside the league, against Pitt, St. John’s and Ohio State.

The 2019-2020 season begins on Nov. 8 in Morgantown against Akron, and also closes in Morgantown against conference rival Baylor.

Coming in for non-conference games are Rhode Island, the Governors of Austin Peay, Nicholls (Louisiana) and Missouri in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Youngstown State is another non-conference road game.

The Mountaineers will play in the four-game Cancun Challenge, with the first two games in Morgantown against Northern Colorado and Boston University. The final two games of that late-November event will be in Mexico against Northern Iowa and either South Carolina or Wichita State.

The Big 12 schedule begins on Jan. 4 against Kansas in Lawrence. The first two Big 12 games in Morgantown come on Jan. 11 against Texas Tech and Jan. 14 against TCU.

The Big 12 tournament in Kansas City begins on March 11.

Oscar Tshiebwe is the most recognized of the new faces to the 2019-2020 team. He’s 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, and is supposed to team with returnee Derek Culver (6-foot-10) to energize WVU’s front line.

Other first-year Mountaineers are 6-foot-3 Sean McNeil from Union, Ky., 6-foot-2 Miles McBride from Cinicinnati, 6-foot-4 Taz Sherman from Missouri City, Texas, 6-foot-7 Gabe Osabuohian from Toronto and 6-foot-7 Jalen Bridges from Fairmont.

Other than Culver, the six returnees include Jermaine Haley, Emmitt Mathews, Logan Routt, Jordan McCabe, Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler.

Routt (Cameron), Knapper (South Charleston), Harler (Wheeling Central Catholic) and Bridges (Fairmont Senior) are the four players from West Virginia high schools.

Long-time head coach Bob Huggins has said he will bring back the so-called “Press Virginia” full court pressure defense, now he has two athletic centers in Culver and Tshiebwe.

Honors in the Big 12 could feature at least five teams — Kansas, TCU, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas State — scrapping for the top rung and even Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and WVU with realistic chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament.