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WVU Men's Basketball: Mountaineers Avoid Disaster, Survive Monmouth 64-54

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The Mountaineers probably couldn't have played any worse, but they held on to defeat Monmouth in their opening game of the season.

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Finally, Mountaineer basketball is officially back. To celebrate, they decided to lay a major egg right in the middle of the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers defeated survived Monmouth in one of the ugliest games you will ever see. Here's what I'll say about this game: It won't be shown at basketball camps across America anytime soon.

The Mountaineers shot 6-36 in the first half for a sizzling 16.7%. They finished the game 18-69 for 26.1%. At least fifteen of those misses came in the paint. They took twenty-nine three pointers and made six. (Meanwhile, Eron Harris is chilling on a couch in East Lansing saying "miss me yet?") WVU did not have a field goal in the last six minutes of the first half and trailed Monmouth 26-21. I've watched a lot of WVU basketball. I've never seen the team play that bad.

The second half didn't start any better. Monmouth led by double digits for a good chunk of the half. The Mountaineers clawed back and took a 49-48 lead with a little under five minutes to go, their first lead since 20-19 in the first half. They would expand that lead at the free throw line and hold on for a 64-54 victory. The game was MUCH closer than what the score indicates.

Juwan Staten paced WVU with 20 points on 4-9 shooting and 11-12 from the line. Devin Williams was the only other player in double figures, scoring 15 on 3-14 shooting and 9-13 from the line. Williams also grabbed 15 rebounds, 12 of which were offensive. Monmouth was led by Deon Jones with 15 points.

Bob Huggins made a change in his starting lineup from their exhibition win over Shepherd, inserting Jaysean Paige for Nathan Adrian (who replaced Jonathan Holton in the lineup to start the second half) after Paige's 6 steal performance on Sunday. He substituted freely, trying to find a lineup that worked, and at one point in the first half he brought an entirely new five man unit on the floor.

BillyDee Williams and Brandon Watkins were both out tonight, with Williams suffering a fracture to his orbital bone and Watkins being sick.

The game was incredibly sloppy. The passing in the half court was....shaky. The shooting was worse. The ball didn't move. You could tell there were some nerves for the new guys, and everyone was still trying to figure out how to play with one another. Holton in particular missed several bunnies in the first half. Devin Williams couldn't make anything, but the guy battled all night. Juwan Staten didn't look like himself in the first half, but played much better toward the end of the game. I still don't think he's 100%.

West Virginia has the makings of a pretty solid defense, and you have to believe this will be their worst shooting game of the entire season. It can only go up from here. I also gotta commend the effort tonight. Even though they couldn't have played any worse, I didn't see anyone quit out there.

On a positive note, I really enjoy the broadcast duo of Rob King and Warren Baker. Every time they call a Mountaineer game, you can tell both have done their homework. They're professional and provide useful information, not overused sports phrases. I'd take those two any day over most any of the national guys.

West Virginia will be back in action on Sunday, taking on Lafayette at 3:00 at the WVU Coliseum. The game will be televised by ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.