West Virginia Improves to 2-0

  • November 24, 2009 09:26 PM
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By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
November 24, 2009


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Eighth-ranked West Virginia ran its record to 2-0 with a 69-50 victory over The Citadel Tuesday night at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.Va.

  West Virginia's Wellington Smith grabs a rebound in the first half of Tuesday night's game against The Citadel in Charleston. West Virginia won the game 69-50.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo

After jumping out to an early 10-3 lead, the Mountaineers were never in danger of losing the game, but The Citadel managed to stick around with solid 3-point shooting and some poor shooting by West Virginia. The Mountaineers shot 46 percent for the game despite having several wide open looks.

During a seven minute stretch from 10:29 to the final media timeout of the game with 3:07 remaining, West Virginia hit just three field goals.

“I just told them at the timeout, ‘Can we just make a shot?’ We’ve got a wide open shot at the free throw line and it hits the backboard first,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “That’s bad shooting. I said to them, ‘All of you guys are capable of shooting 70 percent from the foul line, right?’ They said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Well, we get you a wide open shot at the foul line then we ought to shoot about 60 percent from the field.’ They look at you and shake their head and then they go out and miss another one.”

Despite West Virginia’s cold shooting, the Bulldogs could never get closer than 14 points at 62-48. West Virginia’s biggest lead was 21 at 69-48 after a Kevin Jones reverse layup.

“I think they were concerned about our cuts and our curls and they packed it back in which I guess is the smart thing to do when you’re smaller than we are,” Huggins said.

John Flowers came off the bench to give West Virginia a big spark with 13 points, a pair of rebounds and a block. The junior also had a steal in 22 minutes of playing time.

“John was very active,” said Huggins.

Joe Mazzulla, making his first appearance since the Davidson game last year, also played well coming off the bench. He finished the game with a basket, six assists and a steal.

“He is our best on-the-ball defender and he plays so hard,” said Huggins. “I think that becomes contagious. It seems to me that we were just a step behind tonight. We didn’t get to the ball the way we can get to the ball.”

The Mountaineers also got double-digit efforts from Jones (11), Truck Bryant (10) and Casey Mitchell (10).

Da’Sean Butler, who scored 26 in the season opener nine days ago against Loyola, managed 9 points on 4 of 11 shooting.

“I was going to try and play everybody but I probably played Da too much,” Huggins said. “He played 35 minutes. I got Joe 15 minutes and I thought he played well. Danny (Jennings) probably should have played more minutes.”

Cameron Wells led all scorers with 19 points.

“He’s a very good player and we knew that coming in,” Huggins said. “He’s got that strong base that can kind of knock you off the ball a little bit.”

The Citadel finished the game 9 of 16 from 3 and tied West Virginia on the glass with 30 rebounds.

“I wasn’t very happy with the way we rebounded the ball,” Huggins said.

A sellout crowd of 12,348 attended tonight’s game.

West Virginia will travel by bus to Cincinnati tonight and will fly out to Anaheim, Calif., tomorrow for the opening round of the 76 Classic against Long Beach State on Thanksgiving Day.

The game will tip at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.