WVU basketball: Bryant leads Mountaineers to win over Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- If the last time it took the court the inexperience was showing last night it was the potential that shone through.
West Virginia could muster only 48 points when it visited Seton Hall.
It was the opposite at Rutgers.
Putting together their most impressive first half of the season, the Mountaineers fought back a mild Rutgers second-half rally to claim an 85-64 win in a Big East contest played at Rutgers Louis Brown Athletic Center.
The win is the seventh in a row for West Virginia over Rutgers and improved its season mark to 11-4 and 2-1 in the conference. Rutgers falls to 8-7 and 0-2 in the Big East.
Darryl "Truck" Bryant, who was coming off a 3-for-16 shooting performance against Seton Hall, led the way with 29 points as five players reached double figures.
Kevin Jones, who was a game-time decision with a tender ankle, notched his 10th double-double of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Deniz Kilicli netted 16 and Aaron Brown and Jabarie Hinds had 11 points apiece for the Mountaineers. Eli Carter led Rutgers with 19.
"It was a lot better than the other day," West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins said. "The big difference was Truck was 7-for-13 tonight and 3-for-16 against Seton Hall. Kevin Jones gets 14 and 14 and those guys have to play well for us to win. Having as many young guys as we have it's a day-to-day thing. The freshmen haven't been as consistent as they need to be."
It was certainly good to have Bryant back in the consistent column.
"I wasn't getting any looks the other night (Seton Hall)," Bryant said.
"This game we came ready to play. My team needs to be consistent in scoring. If they needed something else I'd so that, but they need me to score."
The Mountaineers started the game looking very inexperienced as it had five turnovers in the first six minutes and the Scarlet Knights enjoyed an early five-point lead.
Things got even at 13 and then the capability of the Mountaineers was on full display.
It started innocently enough with a Bryant 3-pointer from the right side, and while the defense was forcing the Scarlet Knights into turnover after turnover, the offense was capitalizing.
Just about everyone on the floor got into the act as West Virginia put together a very impressive 24-4 run and with 5:40 left in the first half they had a very comfortable 37-17 advantage.
Rutgers didn't help itself by missing 11 free throws, but it was a determined gang of Mountaineers that cruised to a 51-26 halftime lead.
After scoring just 48 the entire game against Seton Hall the 51 points was the most explosive first half the season and it marked the second time West Virginia has gone over the half century mark in a half.
The other time came in the second half against Texas A & M - Corpus Christi when they put up 52.
It was the most Rutgers allowed in a half and it largest halftime deficit this season.
"We showed we have a glass jaw when they started making Big East plays,'' said Rutgers second-year Coach Mike Rice. "They are a well-coached team with tougher players than Rutgers."
West Virginia shot at 57.7 percent in the first 20 minutes and was 6-for-11 from beyond the arc and had seven first half steals. If there was one drawback it was the 16 fouls whistled on the Mountaineers. There were a total of 30 personal fouls called in the first half.
The Scarlet Knights opened the second half like it was going to make a game of it, scoring the first 10 points of the second half.
Huggins quickly called time to get things straightened out.
"We lost our aggression," said Huggins of the RU rally. "We went to a 2-3 zone to make them shoot the ball over top of us. It allowed us to have some run outs and it's easier to run out of the zone."
Rutgers was able to cut the deficit to 58-43 with just over 10 minutes left, but after a tough game at Seton Hall it was Bryant showing the senior leadership once again pointing the Mountaineers in the right direction.
A direction filled with a lot of potential.