West Virginia 64, USF 50

  • March 01, 2009 06:46 PM
  • |
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
March 1, 2009

West Virginia 64, USF 50
USF Sun Dome
Tampa, Fla.
West Virginia 30 34 64
USF 27 23 50
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 23-52 20-50
FG Percentage 44.2% 40.0%
3P Made-Att 6-17 4-14
3P Percentage 35.3% 28.6%
FT Made-Att 12-16 6-10
FT Percentage 75.0% 60.0%
Rebounds 38 25
Turnovers 9 6
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Rebounder
Alex Ruoff
16 Points
Da'Sean Butler
12 Rebounds 

Alex Ruoff's 16 points led four West Virginia double-figure scorers in the Mountaineers’ 64-50 victory over South Florida Sunday afternoon at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa.

West Virginia (20-9, 9-7) used a 10-1 run at the beginning of the second half to break open a tight game. The Mountaineers had their biggest lead of the game with 9:29 remaining following a Ruoff jumper.

“We were able to grind that one out,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “Getting them by 13 on the glass I guess was the key to the game.”

West Virginia had a 38-25 advantage on the glass and held USF guard Dominique Jones to 18 points – 17 fewer than he got the last time the two teams played in Morgantown Jan. 17 when the Mountaineers held on for a three-point victory.

Jones was 7 of 13 from the floor, but took 12 fewer shots than the first game.

“I think he was looking for (shots). We were very conscious of where he was until the end and then in the end we gave him two wide-open looks at 3s,” Huggins said. “For the most part we were very help-conscious when he got the ball.”

WVU got solid all-around games from freshmen Truck Bryant, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones. All three reached double figures with Bryant scoring 13, nine coming in the first half.

Ebanks had 10 points and seven rebounds while Jones came off the bench to score 10 points and grab five boards. In Jones’ last 13 games he is shooting 59.4 percent (44 of 74).

“Alex came up big. He made big plays for us and Devin gets his usual 10 and seven,” Huggins said. “I thought Kevin came in and played well for us as well.”

Da'Sean Butler led WVU with a game-high 12 rebounds, but managed to score just 9 on 3 of 10 shooting. In his last four games after scoring a career-high 43 against Villanova Butler has scored 19 against Notre Dame, 12 at Rutgers, 8 at Cincinnati and now 9 at USF. He is just 11 of 31 shooting in his last three games.

The Mountaineers shot 44.2 percent for the game (23 of 52) that included 35.3 percent (6 of 17) from 3-point range. West Virginia was 12 of 16 from the free throw line.

South Florida shot 40 percent (20 of 50) from the field.

“We had a hard time guarding their penetration in man so we played some point-drop and we played a little bit of 1-3-1 to try and give them some different looks,” Huggins explained.

USF drops to 8-20, 3-13 under second-year coach Stan Heath.

The victory Sunday keeps West Virginia on pace with Syracuse to finish in the top eight in the Big East standings and avoid playing the Tuesday game.

West Virginia is tied with the Orange for seventh place with 9-7 league records. Syracuse blew out Cincinnati 87-63 earlier today, while Providence moved into sixth place with a 10-7 record after a 73-66 victory at Rutgers.

West Virginia has now won 20 or more games for the fifth straight season. That is the first time that has happened since Gale Catlett’s teams did it from 1983-87. Also, Bob Huggins becomes just the second coach in school history to post back-to-back 20-win seasons to begin his WVU coaching career.

George King had 23-4 and 24-6 records to begin his WVU coaching career in 1961-62.

West Virginia returns to the Coliseum to face DePaul Wednesday night. WVU wraps up the regular season on Saturday against Louisville.

“It will be great to get back home and get that tremendous support from the students and our fans. Wednesday is a huge game for us,” Huggins said. “The DePaul game for us is a lot like the St. John’s game a year ago. We were very fortunate to beat St. John’s when Mazzulla makes the driving layup to send the game into overtime.

“I think it’s the game kind of game for us.

“They almost got Villanova two games ago and if they do that to us then we take a huge, huge hit in the RPI and then all of the sudden people are talking about the bubble again,” Huggins explained. “We need some support and I’m sure we are going to get it.”