WVU basketball: Mountaineers score another win, 88-55
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- With the outcome decided by an impressive first half run against an overmatched opponent, and a sparse crowd in need of something entertaining, West Virginia spent part of the Saturday's second half gunning for 100 points again.
It had been 16 years since the Mountaineers scored 100 or more points in consecutive games.
They needed a Kevin Noreen basket on a frantic final possession Thursday to score 101 and pass the century mark for the first time in six years in a win against Georgia Southern. They tried again against Presbyterian to surpass 100 points for a second straight game for the first time since early in the 1997-98 season that ended in the Sweet Sixteen.
After scoring 48 points in the first half, WVU had just 65 with 10 minutes left to play and 80 with 4:28 to go before running the clock on their final few possessions. The Mountaineers did win, though, this time 88-55 before 5,067 at the Coliseum to take a three-game winning streak to tournament play at the Cancun Classic.
"This game was about working on us and getting better," WVU Coach Bob Huggins said. "That was kind of the focus for a couple days. We have to get ready. We wanted to do some things to get better. We got to work on some things, which was good.
"I kind of like this. I don't know what I'm playing Purdue and Gonzaga and all those other people for. I kind of like this. It's a little more relaxing sitting over there."
Eron Harris, the Big 12's leading scorer at 20.8 points per game, scored a game-high 19 points. Juwan Staten, second to Harris in the conference at 20 points per game, added 16 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Staten, who had one turnover in each of the first four games, had no turnovers against the Blue Hose. He has 38 assists, also the best in the Big 12.
"They are two tremendous guards that could be the top two at their position in the country, in terms of how they complement each other," Presbyterian Coach Gregg Nibert said. "Huggins also has a great 3-point shooting team, along with a great bench. My hat's off to them. I think they'll be nationally ranked sooner rather than later."
Remi Dibo added 14 points and four 3-pointers and Devin Williams finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the freshman's second double-double. The Mountaineers (4-1) shot 49.2 percent and made 11 of 25 3-point attempts. They had shot 50 percent or better in two straight games and three out of four times this season.
"We have more guys who can make shots," Huggins said. "It's really pretty simple. You look like a good offensive coach whenever the ball goes in. When it doesn't go in, you don't look so good."
Jordan Downing led Presbyterian (1-5) with 18 points. The Blue Hose shot 39.6 percent and had 19 turnovers.
The Mountaineers travel to Cancun, Mexico, Sunday and practice Monday. They play Old Dominion at 6 p.m. Tuesday on CBS Sports Network. The winner and the loser advance to play either Wisconsin or Saint Louis Wednesday, also on CBS Sports Network.
A 3 from Reggie Dillard cut WVU's lead to 20-16 with 9:42 to go in the first half. The Mountaineers then scored seven quick points in a 15-2 run.
Staten took a defensive rebound toward his basket and made a reverse layup while being fouled. He missed the free throw, but Kevin Noreen got the rebound and scored at the end of the possession. Presbyterian missed and Dibo hit a 3. The Blue Hose were down 27-16 just 59 seconds after making it a four-point game.
They missed seven straight shots while WVU got its first 13 points in the run on scores from six different payers. The Blue Hose were never closer than 11 points the rest of the game.
In what's becoming increasingly normal, eight of the nine Mountaineers who played in the first half scored and five made a 3. WVU made 17 of 33 shots (51.5 percent) and 6 of 11 3-point attempts (54.5 percent) and outrebounded Presbyterian 23-14 in the first half.
The Blue Hose scored first to start the second half, but the Mountaineer scored the next 13 points to end any chance for a comeback. WVU spent much of the second half running sets or focusing on particular players on offense and working on zone defenses.
"We don't understand rotations yet," Huggins said. "Honestly, we've only spent a little time playing 1-3-1. I think we may be a better half-court trapping team than a 1-3-1 team. We'll keep throwing them out there a little bit. If nothing else, it makes people spend a little more time preparing for us and not as much time preparing themselves."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.