By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
November 26, 2009
BOX SCORE | TEXAS A&M NOTES
Casey Mitchell made the most of his 15 minutes, scoring 18 points on 5 of 9 shooting to lead eighth-ranked West Virginia to an 85-62 victory over Long Beach State Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“I thought we played really hard and then we made some shots and got some contributions off the bench,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
West Virginia (3-0) shot the ball well from behind the 3-point arc, finishing the game 12 of 24.
Jonnie West came off the bench to pour in a career-high 11 points on 3 of 5 shooting from behind the arc, while Truck Bryant (2 of 2), Dalton Pepper (2 of 4) and Da’Sean Butler (1 of 4) also made 3s.
“Jonnie can make some shots and Pep can make some shots and it’s nice to be able to bring guys off the bench that can do that,” said Huggins.
Butler added 13 points and Kevin Jones finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
“KJ did what KJ does, he got 10 and nine and had five assists and that’s what we’ve become accustomed to seeing KJ do,” Huggins said.
Mitchell got things going right off the bat with three early 3s.
“That’s what we thought Casey could do when we recruited him and it’s just a matter I think of him getting some confidence,” said Huggins.
West Virginia never trailed, leading by as many as 21 in the first half and 27 in the second half. Joe Mazzulla came off the bench to give WVU a big spark with his defense and playmaking in the first half. Mazzulla scored 6 points, grabbed three rebounds and handed out an assist, including a key stretch when he hit a pair of free throws (shooting right-handed) and made a driving lay up to build West Virginia’s lead to 15.
“I thought he gave us great minutes and he puts pressure on the rim,” said Huggins of Mazzulla. “I thought he delivered the ball pretty well.”
The second half was full of fouls with the 49ers reaching the bonus six minutes into the second half. Wellington Smith and Danny Jennings both fouled out.
Jennings finished with 8 points and two rebounds in eight minutes.
“Dan (Monson) said to me after the game, ‘Huggs we just don’t see guys that play that hard with this kind of length,’” said Huggins. “We are longer. We’re not overly athletic but we are pretty long and we got our hands on some balls and then we’ve kind of got some guys who know what they’re doing. It’s kind of taken a while for those guys to get back to where we were defensively but they do know what they’re doing.”
Stephan Gilling and Greg Plater scored 14 each for Long Beach, now 3-2.
Long Beach State’s leading scorer Larry Anderson, who came into the game averaging 18.8 points per game, finished with five points without making a field goal.
“They do a lot of nice things with him with screens and we switched the screens,” said Huggins. “We started with Da on him and we switched from Da to John Flowers or to Wellington Smith and I thought Cam (Thoroughman) did a really good job on him.”
The Mountaineers will face Texas A&M tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN.