Mountaineers Down Friars


By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
February 7, 2009

West Virginia 86, Providence 59
WVU Coliseum
Morgantown, W.va.
Summary
 
1
2
F
Providence 27 32 59
West Virginia 42 44 86
Stat Comparison
 
FG Made-Att 21-56 32-64
FG Percentage 37.5% 50.0%
3P Made-Att 3-18 11-25
3P Percentage 16.7% 44.0%
FT Made-Att 14-20 11-14
FT Percentage 70.0% 78.6%
Rebounds 35 38
Turnovers 19 12
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Rebounder
 Alex Ruoff
24 Points
Da'Sean Butler
9 Rebounds

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s hard-nosed defense and efficient offensive play led the Mountaineers to an 86-59 victory over Providence Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (16-7, 5-5), snapped their two-game conference losing streak by getting back to basics on their home court as they held the high-scoring Friars (14-9, 6-5) to their second lowest scoring output of the season.

Guard Alex Ruoff came out aggressively and led the Mountaineers with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting. More importantly, the Spring Hill, Fla., native nailed 6 of 7 3-pointers, his best offensive output from outside the arc since draining nine treys in a 38-point effort against Radford on Dec. 23.

”We passed it really well but let’s be honest, Alex Ruoff was 6 for 7 from 3,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “When he makes shots that frees up everybody else. He played exceptionally well today I thought at both ends.”

Da’Sean Butler, who entered the contest averaging a team-best 17.9 points, finished with 17 points and a team-leading nine rebounds. Butler and Ruoff repeatedly made an array of inside and outside shots despite Butler seeing his six-game 20-point scoring streak come to an end.

More impressively, Ruoff made the most of his opportunities at both point guard and shooting guard, dishing out a game-high six assists, registering four steals and grabbing five boards.

Playing against a fast-paced squad in Providence, the Mountaineers excelled on offense against a variety of defenses used by the Friars, including man-to-man pressure, a half-court zone and a 2-1-2 full court press. WVU’s patience on offense and its ability to work the ball into the middle and hit open shots on the wing stymied Providence’s defensive game plan.

”I thought in the half-court offense we really did pass the ball well,” Huggins said. “I don’t know, it’s a lot more fun watching them make shots I know that.”

Devin Ebanks also notched double figures, scoring 13 points and grabbing six boards as he created space in the Friars’ half court zone by driving aggressively to the basket. Darryl “Truck” Bryant added 10 points in 22 minutes.

The Mountaineers never allowed the Friars to reduce their deficit to single digits in the second half. After a thunderous dunk by Providence’s Geoff McDermott with 16:20 made it 48-35, Ruoff refused to let the momentum swing as he proceeded to hit a 3-pointer to extend the WVU lead.

A lay up by Weyinimi Efejuku with 11:02 left allowed the Friars to creep within 11 points at 55-44, but the Mountaineers countered with a crucial 10-2 run over the next three minutes, capped by Butler’s 3-pointer with 8:39 left to give WVU a 64-46 advantage.

The Mountaineers continued to execute on offense. A difficult transition layup by Bryant extended their lead to 72-48, and Jonnie West’s 3-pointer with 24 seconds created the final score while giving WVU its largest lead at 27 points.

Providence’s 59 points were 21 points below its season average of 80.2 points per game. WVU forced 19 turnovers and limited the Friars to only 21 of 56 from the field (37.5 percent) - far below their 45.3 percent average.

"They compare favorably I think with Villanova in that they both play very good defense in different ways," said Providence coach Keno Davis. "I knew that we were not going to get a lot of open looks."

West Virginia had held Providence to less than 60 points in each of its last three meetings.

”We played hard,” said Huggins. “As of right now we are ninth in our league and that’s not good enough. We have got to win some games here and make a move here in the second half of the conference schedule.”

The Mountaineers continued their rise at the free throw line, making 11 of 14 (78.6 percent) while the Friars nailed 14-of-20 shots (70 percent). Providence had three double-figure scorers: Jeff Xavier (15 points), Sharaud Curry (13 points) and Efejuku (11 points).

Kevin Jones came off the bench to score 8 points, grab seven rebounds and register a blocked shot in 22 minutes. He was part of an active defense that only allowed two fast break points. WVU also edged the Friars in rebounding, 38-35.

The Mountaineers started out the contest at a blistering pace, shooting 56.3 percent from the field to build a 42-27 at halftime. WVU was 6 of 14 from outside the arc, led by Ruoff’s four treys.

Although the bulk of the scoring was held by Butler and Ruoff, other players contributed to give WVU its 15-point margin through the game’s first 20 minutes. Ebanks added four points, both on dunks; the Long Island City, N.Y., native first scored on a three-man fast break that resulted in a nifty underhand pass from Ruoff to get the easy bucket.

Ebanks’ second dunk came off a rebound by Butler, who spun around and threw a full-court one-handed pass that Ebanks caught in stride and finished easily to send the crowd into a frenzy.

Jones and John Flowers also added four points apiece in the first half, giving quality minutes off the bench. Flowers finished the game with five points in 15 minutes of play.

The Mountaineers make a quick turnaround at No. 6 Pitt Monday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN as part of its weekly “Big Monday” production.




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