WVU basketball: Noreen sparks Mountaineers past Loyola
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- There might not be many occasions for West Virginia this season when both Eron Harris and Juwan Staten struggle to score. There might not be many games when Kevin Noreen shows the rest of the team the way.
For one night, the Mountaineers were happy to see both.
Noreen had a rare 3-pointer and all 13 of his points in the first half. Harris and Staten, who combined to score 47 percent of the team's points in the first seven games, finished with 14 and four, but made other meaningful contributions to a 96-47 victory against Loyola (4-3) Monday.
"We score 96 points and Eron wasn't very good," said Coach Bob Huggins, whose 729th career win tied him with Norm Stewart and Jerry Tarkanian for 16th place all time in NCAA Division I history. "He's been really good and he didn't play nearly as well as he's been playing. Wanny didn't score the ball as well as he's been scoring the ball. Neither one of them shot it very well, and in spite of that, we were still able to score."
Remi Dibo was 5-for-7 from 3-point range and had a career-high 19 points, the second time he's led the team in scoring. Terry Henderson made 6 of 8 shots and scored 16 points and Nathan Adrian made three 3s and scored 11 points.
Harris was 4-for-13 and Staten 2-for-10 for WVU (6-2), but it was Noreen who got the offense untracked early.
"I have to because if I don't, I'm not a threat, and you have to be a threat or else they won't respect you and it'll bottle up the offense like it did last year," said Noreen, who missed matching his career high set last year against Virginia Tech by one point. "Teams sat guys in the lane and we couldn't get much at the basket, so I have to."
Noreen's first shot was a 3 at the 17:24 mark and it came as the Greyhounds dropped off Noreen and protected the paint, not thinking Noreen would make his first 3 since Feb. 27.
"I came in two hours before the game and he and Eron Harris were out there shooting the ball," Huggins said. "He had two managers and he was getting up a lot of shots. Ironically, he must have taken 50 shots from the exact same spot he took that shot from."
Harris wasn't as sharp and he scored 12 of his points after halftime, but he did defend Loyola's Dylon Cormier throughout the game. Cormier came in second in the NCAA at 28.4 points per game and finished with just 11 and only seven shots.
Harris also had a career-best seven rebounds while Staten made a mark elsewhere with 10 rebounds and seven assists.
WVU made 32 of 74 shots (43.2 percent), a season-high 13 of 22 3-point shots and 19 of 22 free throws. The Mountaineers also outrebounded the Greyhounds 62-42 and had a 42-9 edge in second-chance points and a 21-9 edge in points off turnovers in their first game since missing 8 of 14 free throw attempts in a 70-63 loss to Wisconsin last week.
"That's a game we should have won," Henderson said. "I knew and my teammates knew Loyola had something coming to them."
A Coliseum crowd of 4,692 witnessed a dominant first half in which the Mountaineers started slowly, but took control. They shot 16-for-40, but counted 3-for-16 from Harris and Staten and just six points. The other seven players were 13-for-24 and each scored at least two points.
The crowd, though, was the smallest this season and the worst since Dec. 21, 2004. WVU drew 4,814 Nov. 21 against Georgia Southern, but with the most of the school's students away on Thanksgiving break that began a day later. The fall semester resumed Monday.
"We've got great fans - there are just 4,000 of them, that's all," Huggins said. "Some people have 16,000 of them. We have 4,000."
WVU took a 7-0 lead and forced Loyola to take an early timeout, but it was 14-9 before WVU really got going. They scored the final 11 points of a 15-4 run to go ahead 29-13 and made 5 of 6 shots and all three of their 3-point attempts.
Noreen hit the floor to secure a loose ball under his basket and call timeout. When play resumed, Noreen was set up for an easy score in the inbound pass for a 36-18 lead. Henderson started an 11-0 run to end the half, which ended when Staten dribbled away the final few seconds and missed a layup, only to see Noreen tip the ball in for his third second-chance basket of the game and a 47-20 lead.
The lead ballooned to be as large as 51 points late in the second half and Huggins was able to keep all of his players under 30 minutes with a game Thursday at Missouri Big 12/SEC Challenge.
"Coach Huggins was mad at halftime," Harris said. "He didn't think we played as hard as we could or that we approached the game like it was a big game, even though every game is supposed to be a big game. He was disappointed in our effort so we came out and gave a much better effort in the second half."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.