The Mean Green took a tough trip up to West Virginia this afternoon. Grant McCasland jumped at the opportunity to get a big game on the schedule that had opened up for both teams quickly. That’s the pandemic for you.
NT was not likely to win, but it was a good measuring stick game. Arkansas was a good opponent and handled NT a little too easily. This game against the Mountaineers saw NT go against a pressing, tough defense. Ultimately, NT was unable to break through often enough — or hit enough shots when they did — to break down Bob Huggin’s team.
Still, there was good things that happened. Javion Hamlet, the reigning CUSA player of the year has been in an early season funk but played great ball early to get NT in the lead at the half. It was a game of runs — a WVU early one, then an NT one, then the Mountaineers sustaining the lead early in the 2nd half on the strength of a strong start to the period. NT’s late push was not enough to retake the lead and everything kind of sputtered as time ran out.
A couple of things I liked:
- Hamlet getting into the teeth of the defense and opening things up for shooters
- Nice play from About Ousmane — the big man showed the ability to catch the ball in traffic and finish: a must for the modern game.
- Good shooting from Thomas Bell — for a time. He finished 2/6
- NT playing it close event though James Reese went 0/6 shooting. That means there is room for improvement and that is heartening. Imagine if NT lost by 12 but everyone scored a ton?
WKU and NT were picked to be the top of the league this season (whatever that looks like, as the virus continues to rage). The Hilltoppers played a good game vs West Virginia while NT struggled against SEC competition. After this we can feel a little bit better about the future.
The team can eschew moral victories but I will take one.