Turns out, the sky isn't falling in Morgantown. After a bad outing in their win against Monmouth, WVU dominated the Lafayette Leopards for a 83-56 victory on Sunday at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers started off about a thousand times better than on Friday, jumping out to a 9-0 lead before Lafayette ever got on the board. The shots once again quit falling, though, and the stagnant offense produced only 1 point (Devin Williams free throw) over roughly the next eight minutes. The Mountaineers started 4-7, and then missed their next 14 shots. Back to back HUGE threes by Jaysean Paige ended the drought and gave WVU a 16-10 lead with 8:45 to go in the half. The defense was mostly solid in the first half, but were beaten by a few backdoor cuts from the Leopards. Shockingly, Huggs was not pleased with this. Pressure defense, combined with 14 points from Jaysean Paige and 10 first half rebounds (6 offensive) for Jonathan Holton, gave West Virginia a 39-24 halftime lead.
WVU again started out with a different lineup to begin the second half, with Nathan Adrian replacing Holton as he did against Monmouth. The first possession of the half was a BEAUTIFUL play that resulted in Juwan Staten throwing an alley-oop to Jaysean Paige, who had received a pick from Adrian. That was a sign of things to come, as WVU cruised in the second half thanks to disruptive defense and effective offense on their way to a 27 point victory.
Jonathan Holton led the Mountaineers with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Jaysean Paige finished with 16 points, 14 in the first half, with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Devin Williams had his second consecutive double-double, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Juwan Staten had 10 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals.
Some more stats of note:
- After only shooting 57% at the line last season, Devin Williams is now 16-22 through 2 games.
- West Virginia forced 20 Lafayette turnovers, while only committing 6.
- The Mountaineers shot 38.3% on the day. Not a great number, but much better than their season opener.
- West Virginia dominated the boards, out-rebounding Lafayette 50-31. They had 26 offensive rebounds.
The Mountaineers were once again without BillyDee Williams and Brandon Watkins. According to head coach Bob Huggins in a pregame radio interview, he estimates Watkins will be out a month and Williams is planning to have surgery next week.
Elijah Macon was out as well. Per Huggins, Macon's mother is ill and he had not been around the past few days. Thoughts and prayers to her and the Macon family.
This was a very encouraging victory for West Virginia. After the poor shooting and overall performance on Friday, they now have some nice momentum going into their next game. Holton in particular had to have gained some confidence, as he started to show that the hype surrounding him was justified. Plus, it's really fun to watch these guys battle and wreak havoc on defense.
Next up, the Mountaineers head to Puerto Rico (gonna guess the weather is better there than in Morgantown) where on Thursday they'll take on George Mason in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Those two teams will be joined by Boston College, College of Charleston, Dayton, New Mexico, Texas A&M, and defending national champion Connecticut. George Mason vs. West Virginia will tip-off at 7:00 PM and the game will be televised by ESPNU.