WVU Outlasts the Herd

  • January 21, 2010 12:50 AM
  • |
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
January 20, 2010


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Da’Sean Butler scored 16 points and 11th-rated West Virginia overcame another frigid shooting performance to beat Marshall 68-60 Wednesday night in the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic in Charleston.

  Da'Sean Butler motions to the crowd after West Virginia's 68-60 victory over Marshall Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo

Butler was one of the few Mountaineers hitting, producing his first 50% shooting effort (6 of 11) since Marquette despite playing only 22 minutes because of foul trouble.

Butler was in the game when it mattered most, though, hitting a jumper to put the Mountaineers up 10, 44-34, and then converting a pair of key free throws with 17 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.

“We beat a pretty good basketball team,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I think it’s good for our guys to win with Da’Sean in foul trouble. Da' generally plays 40 minutes and he played 22 minutes. I thought our other guys stepped up.”

“We played hard,” added Marshall coach Donnie Jones. “’I’m proud of our guys and give West Virginia credit – they found a way to win down the stretch.”

West Virginia was just 22 of 57 overall from the floor for 38.6%, including 4 of 18 from 3-point range. Ten of West Virginia’s final 12 points came from the free throw line.

“We don’t have great shooters and we are what we are,” said Huggins. “What we are is a team that has to play incredibly hard who has to really guard. I think we’re a team that is going to have to change defenses. We can’t give a steady diet of man-to-man.”

On Wednesday, Huggins dusted off his point-drop defense and he also mixed in a little 1-3-1 zone in an effort to slow down Marshall’s shooters.

“We had to bring point-drop out and honestly, we didn’t work on it that much in practice,” said Huggins. “We worked more on the 1-3-1 and actually a half-court trap.”

Marshall used the 3-ball to cut a 10-point deficit to one. The Herd actually had an opportunity to take the lead with 4:40 remaining but Darryl Merthie missed both free throw tries.

“They got back in it because we take two first-pass shots and neither one of them were even close to going in and that leads to transition,” explained Huggins. “We come down and shoot one from the wing from a guy that hadn’t made one and misses everything and they rebound it and it gets them into transition.”

Devin Ebanks was able to put back Truck Bryant’s miss to give West Virginia a 55-52 lead with 4:14 left. Marshall answered with 3s by Lutz and Tyler Wilkerson to pull within two, the last time coming with 21 seconds left.

Following Butler’s two free throws with 17 seconds on the clock, Bryant added two more from the line following Shaquille Johnson’s turnover and Damier Pitts’ foul.

Another turnover by Lutz (Marshall’s 11th) and a foul by Pitts put West Virginia back on the line with three seconds left. The Marshall bench also got hit with a technical foul after the play to give the Mountaineers four opportunities at the free throw line with the outcome decided.

West Virginia had a 43-26 advantage on the glass to offset Marshall’s 8 3-pointers. The Mountaineers also shot a solid 20-of-28 from the free throw line.

Donnie Jones’ credited West Virginia’s substantial advantage on the glass to the Mountaineers’ size up front.

“They’re big across,” said Jones. “Two, three, four and five we’re really mismatched. We tried to play zone and they got big rebounds down the stretch and we just had a hard time the way they were clogging the lane to really get any offensive rebounds.”

Bryant scored 14 and Kevin Jones added 13 for the Mountaineers, now 14-3.

Marshall got 18 points from 7-foot freshman Hassan Whiteside and 16 from Lutz. Thirteen of Whiteside’s game-high 18 points came in the first half. In the second half, John Flowers was able to slow Whiteside down and finished the game with four blocks and four rebounds to go with 5 points.

“John Flowers was terrific,” said Huggins. “John blocks four shots and they were all big, big blocks. They are blocks when they are maybe going to get a dunk or a close shot and I thought that, by far, this was John’s best effort of the year.”

West Virginia’s victory snaps Marshall’s six-game winning streak. The Mountaineers are now 15-4 against Marshall in Charleston, and have won 11 of the last 14 meetings against the Herd.

“I think we’re getting closer and closer,” said Huggins.

A sellout crowd of 12,380 attended tonight’s game.

West Virginia returns to the Coliseum on Saturday to face Ohio State at 2 p.m. in a game that will be televised nationally on CBS. At halftime of Saturday’s game, West Virginia University great Hot Rod Hundley will have his jersey number 33 officially retired, joining Jerry West’s number 44.

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