WVU Back on Track
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
January 13, 2010
Devin Ebanks rebounded from a scoreless performance last Saturday at Notre Dame by scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to lead No. 9 West Virginia to a 69-50 victory over South Florida Wednesday night at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.
“I thought Devin went back to playing the way Devin played at the end of last year,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “That was the Devin I think everybody saw last year and loved.”
As it did in last weekend’s two-point loss at Notre Dame, West Virginia got off to a slow start, trailing the Bulls 23-12 with 7:51 remaining in the first half.
After Huggins called his second 30-second timeout of the half, the Mountaineers went on a 16-4 run over the next five minutes to take a 28-27 lead on Dalton Pepper’s basket with 2:27 remaining in the half.
“I call timeout and I said, ‘Do we just want to give it to them? If we go down 20 will you play then? Just tell me what the number is that you are going to decide to play?’ We didn’t make any shots again,” said Huggins.
The Mountaineers led the Bulls 32-30 at halftime.
In the second half, it was all West Virginia. The Mountaineers held South Florida to just five second-half field goals and the Bulls finished the game shooting only 32.7%. USF was 1 of 17 from 3-point distance.
WVU got 15 points and three assists from Truck Bryant and 12 points from Da’Sean Butler.
“Truck came in and played pretty well for us,” said Huggins.
Bryant hit 5 of 12 including a pair of 3s while Butler had his fourth consecutive sub-50% shooting performance, going 6 of 13.
“Da’Sean has not shot the ball very well for the last three or four games,” said Huggins. “Devin is now doing what Devin can do. They did a good job on KJ. KJ got in foul trouble so he was not in the equation as much as what he normally is so you’ve got to fill in.”
Kevin Jones finished with 9 points in 26 minutes of action, snapping his consecutive double-figure streak at 14 games. He was the only remaining player on the team to score double figures in every game heading into tonight’s contest.
Joe Mazzulla once again played a key role off the bench, scoring 4 points, grabbing four rebounds and handing out four assists. Mazzulla played a season-high 23 minutes and continues to look more comfortable using his left shoulder.
“Joe really did a good job of keeping the ball out of Dominique Jones’ hands because he is such a key part of their offense,” said Huggins. “Their offense became a little stagnant and they couldn’t run the things that they ran before.”
Huggins was especially pleased with the way Ebanks rebounded after his worst performance of the season at Notre Dame.
“I’ve been talking to him about just do what you do,” said Huggins. “He’s really good moving without the ball. He’s good at attacking the rim. He’s not a 3-point shooter and he’s not a guy who can play laterally off the bounce. He’s got to get angles and he’s so long that he can get it to the basket and get it on the rim.”
Dominique Jones finished with a game-high 28 points for USF. Three other players managed just 6 points for the Bulls, now 10-6, 0-4.
The Mountaineers have now won six straight against South Florida since the Bulls joined the Big East Conference.
West Virginia faces fifth-ranked Syracuse on Saturday at the Coliseum in a showdown of Top 10 teams. It is the first time since 1960 that Morgantown will play host to a pair of Top 10-teams. Third-ranked West Virginia faced ninth-ranked Villanova at the Field House on Jan. 16, 1960 – Jerry West’s senior year at WVU.
“We’ve got to make some shots. They’re going to play 2-3 zone,” said Huggins. “(Arinze) Onuaku and (Rick) Jackson inside and now with Johnson who is really long – just as big as what our guys are, we’ve got to be able to get the ball into the paint and get it out. We’ve got to have some patience and when we get open looks we have to make them.”
Tip off for the WVU-Syracuse game is noon and the contest will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Syracuse defeated Rutgers 81-65 in Piscataway earlier this evening.
Game Notes: Bob Huggins used a four-forward starting lineup tonight with Butler, Ebanks, Jones and Wellington Smith joining guard Truck Bryant … Ebanks’ 17-point, 11-rebound performance was his third double-double of the season and the 12th of his career … tonight’s game was the fourth consecutive game the Mountaineers have shot less than 50% from the floor; forward Da’Sean Butler is 22-of-63 shooting during that stretch of games, “We’ve got to get him going,” said Huggins of Butler. “And it’s not that he’s not playing hard and it’s not that he’s not trying” … Butler (1,680 career points) is now nine points shy of passing Ron “Fritz” Williams for eight place on the school’s all-time scoring list … Jones (230 points) has already exceeded his scoring total of a year ago by nine points.
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