Men's Basketball

West Virginia Wins Opener

By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
November 15, 2009


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Da’Sean Butler scored 26 points to lead No. 8 West Virginia to an 83-60 victory over Loyola, Md., Sunday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.

  Da'Sean Butler scored a game-high 26 points Sunday against Loyola.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo

Butler’s 15 second-half points and some energetic play by freshman Danny Jennings jumpstarted a sluggish West Virginia team playing without forward Devin Ebanks, who was not on the bench for the game.

“He’s got some personal issues to work through,” said Huggins of Ebanks. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

Jennings nearly had a double-double in his first college game, scoring 9 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 16 minutes of action off the bench.

“Danny changed a bunch of shots,” said Huggins. “He got a couple but he changed a whole bunch of shots when they took it to the basket.”

Jennings' 12 rebounds were the most ever by a Mountaineer freshman playing in his first game. Six others in WVU history have pulled down at least 12 rebounds in their first game but not as a freshman (the last to do it was junior college transfer Carey Bailey against East Carolina on Nov. 30, 1968).

Huggins used 11 different players in search of some defensive stops and offensive rhythm. At one point, Loyola was shooting better than 70 percent from the floor and had a 20-13 lead after a Shane Walker dunk with 9:56 left in the first half.

At halftime, West Virginia’s numbers were not very impressive: 32.4 percent field goal percentage including 2 of 17 from 3, 22-14 disadvantage in the paint and a 16-6 deficit in bench scoring that led to a 31-31 score.

But the Mountaineers scored the first 11 points of the second half on back-to-back 3s by Truck Bryant and Wellington Smith, a short jumper by Butler and another 3 by Bryant.

The closest Loyola could get was six on a Julius Brooks dunk.

“What we do is take people out of what they want to run and in the second half we took them out of what we want to run,” said Huggins.

Bryant contributed 15 points and five assists, Kevin Jones scored 14 points and seven rebounds and Casey Mitchell added 13 points.

“Hopefully we do have some more guys that can score although I’m not convinced of that today,” said Huggins. “We still have to play the way we’ve been playing in that we have to share the ball and we have to take good shots.”

Loyola (1-1) finished the game shooting 52 percent, just ninth time since Huggins has coached at WVU that the opponent has shot better than 50 percent for the game.

“We took them out of things for a while and then we would have a breakdown,” said Huggins. “You get four guys doing the right thing and one guy doesn’t do the right thing and they throw it to this guy and they score.”

The Mountaineers were 29 of 70 from the floor for 41.4 percent and 16 of 27 from the line for 58.3 percent.

“For us to have three jump shots blocked from beyond the arc in the first half that just means you are taking bad shots,” said Huggins. “That means you are forcing shots and you are not doing things within the framework of what is supposed to happen.”

John Flowers sat out the second half with a foot injury. Huggins said after the game that Flowers was able to walk on it and should be fine.

“He got an X-ray and it was negative so he’ll be ready to go,” Huggins said.

Guard Joe Mazzulla also didn't play.

"I didn't want to push it," said Huggins.

West Virginia had a 45-30 advantage on the glass that led to a 27-6 advantage in second chance points.

“The one thing that I can promise you is that we will get significantly better,” said Huggins. “Now we’ve finally played somebody. We will go in and look at tape tomorrow, we’ll break tape down and they will see where we are and we’ve got over a week until our next game. So we will get significantly better before our next game.”

The Mountaineers have nine days until their next game against Citadel on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in Charleston.

Tickets for that game are on sale through the Mountaineer Ticket office online at WVUGAME.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-WVU GAME.