Busting Brackets

West Virginia Basketball: Takeaways from loss to SMU in Fort Myers Tip-Off

Mar 16, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers players react from the bench against the Maryland Terrapins during the second half in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers players react from the bench against the Maryland Terrapins during the second half in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

West Virginia Basketball had an 11-point halftime lead erased by SMU, who outscored the Mountaineers 45-22 in the 2nd half.

West Virginia Basketball fell to SMU on the opening night of the Fort Myers Tip-Off. The final scores was 70-58 in favor of the Mustangs.

1st Half

Quinn Slazinski got off to a hot start and led the Mountaineers to an early lead. The first 20 minutes of this game had West Virginia fans feeling good. This was arguably the most complete half of basketball for the Mountaineers all season. WVU led 36-25 at halftime.

Slazinski and Jesse Edwards were both playing well, while the supporting Mountaineer cast had contributed on both ends of the floor to help the team secure a double-digit lead at the half. Then came the 2nd half.

2nd Half

SMU outscored WVU 45-22 in the final 20 minutes. SMU did a nice job of giving West Virginia different looks defensively. Additionally, the full-court pressure they applied all game seemed to wear the Mountaineers down in the late stages of this one. Having just 7 players available in the fourth game of the season proved to be just a bit too much for this Mountaineer team to overcome. SMU scrapped and clawed their way back into the game and they were able to extend their lead to double-digits with just a few minutes remaining.


Jesse Edwards – 18 points | 9 rebounds | 3 blocks | 5 turnovers | 36 minutes

Quinn Slazinski – 13 points | 3 assists | 1 rebound | 34 minutes

  • Slazinksi is 6’9 and the tallest player in the Mountaineer rotation that is not named Jesse Edwards. 1 rebound from Slazinski in 34 minutes played is not ideal for a WVU team in need of everyone’s best.

Seth Wilson – 9 points | 8 rebounds | 4 assists | 2 steals | 33 minutes

 West Virginia lost because ______________________

You may have thought of a few factors that contributed to the Mountaineers 2nd half collapse against SMU, I’ll give you 4 valid arguments.

1. The 7 available players got tired

This game was an uphill battle to begin with. West Virginia’s lack of depth and SMU’s willingness to play 10+ guys was already a recipe for disaster. If the eye test didn’t show you, the commentators on FS1 certainly said it enough, West Virginia’s players looked exhausted. Needing Jesse Edwards to play 36 or more minutes per game is a difficult ask. West Virginia played a great first half of basketball, but they just could not keep it up in the second half due to a lack of available players.

2. Their Interim Head Coach has 4 games of experience

Josh Eilert has been in the Mountaineer program for a long time. He has spent the last 16 seasons on the basketball staff, but being the head coach is a whole new world. It is certainly easy to root for a guy like Eilert who has waited his turn and been extremely committed to the basketball program for the last 16 years. However, he is brand new to the role of being a head coach, and their will be moments this season that exploit that fact.

3. Bob Huggins messed up

Bob Huggins is a Hall of Fame basketball coach. However, his actions in the off-season led to arguably the most chaotic summer in the history of this storied basketball program. The fact of the matter is that reasons 1 and 2 listed above are only on this list because of Bob Huggins departure from the program. WVU would have more than 7 players available to play if it wasn’t for the actions of Bob Huggins. This roster would be bolstered by some talented pieces from last season that transferred following the “resignation” of Bob Huggins.

4. The NCAA suspended Kerr Kriisa and refuses to let RaeQuan Battle play

It has now been 29 days since the NCAA denied the waiver to let RaeQuan Battle play for the Mountaineers this season. It has been 22 days since WVU submitted their appeal to the NCAA. The difference RaeQuan Battle could make for this WVU team is astronomical. He is the best scorer on the roster, averaging nearly 18 points per game at Montana State last season. The last time Battle saw the floor came against the Kansas State Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Battle scored 27 points against a KSU team that made it all the way to the Elite 8.

When it rains, it pours

Three weeks ago, Kerr Kriisa received a 9-game suspension from the NCAA for receiving “impermissible benefits” at Arizona. In the new era of NIL, it is hard to understand what impermissible benefits Kriisa received that went against NCAA rules. Although these benefits were received at the University of Arizona, it is only the West Virginia University basketball program and Kerr Kriisa paying the consequences.

Fort Myers Tip-Off

West Virginia will play Virginia in the 3rd Place Game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off. UVA fell to the Wisconsin Badgers by a score of 65-41 on Monday night. The Badgers will see SMU in the Fort Myers Tip-Off Championship on Wednesday night.

Fort Myers Tip-Off

Monday, November 20th 

Game 1 | Wisconsin 65 Virginia 41

Game 2 | SMU 70 WVU 58

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Wednesday, November 22nd

Game 3 | Virginia vs West Virginia | 6 PM on FS1

Game 4 | Wisconsin vs SMU | 8:30 PM on FS1