Add another victim to the Mountaineer press. #22 West Virginia (10-1) forced 23 NC State turnovers and defeated the Wolfpack (9-3) 83-69 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, giving Bob Huggins his 750th career win.
Both teams got off to a slow start, but a West Virginia lineup of Phillip-Carter-Paige-Macon-Watkins sparked the Mountaineers midway through the first half, with this Jaysean Paige dunk (after he stole the ball off of the press) giving WVU the 12-11 lead:
That group provided intensity the starting five lacked to begin the game.
For the rest of the half, #PressVirginia wreaked havoc on the Wolfpack, and a Jevon Carter banked three (from the corner!) at the buzzer gave the Mountaineers a 41-32 lead at the break. NC State attempted 17 field goals in the first half. West Virginia MADE 17 field goals in the first half. Sixteen first half turnovers allowed West Virginia to shoot twice as many times as the Wolfpack.
NC State started the second half on fire, with an 11-3 run cutting the Mountaineer lead to 44-43 not even four minutes in. The game stayed within a possession or two for the next several minutes, but then Juwan Staten took over. His ballhandling drew some "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd, and the jumper started falling. Back-to-back jumpers at the eight minute mark gave West Virginia a 63-55 advantage. WVU was able to keep the lead at about that distance for the rest of the game, making 10 of their last 11 shots and defeating the Wolfpack by a final score of 83-69.
West Virginia was led in scoring by Juwan Staten with a season high 24 points on 10-17 shooting and 6 assists. Devin Williams added 16 points and 8 rebounds. Jaysean Paige scored 11 off the bench.
Trevor Lacey led NC State with 24. Anthony Barber added 16.
- It was great to see the gold and blue again at MSG. I'm still jealous of the people that had the privilege to sing Country Roads in The Garden in 2010 after West Virginia won their first (and only) Big East conference championship.
- Gary Browne's solid play of late led to him getting his first start of the season, joining Juwan Staten, Daxter Miles, Jonathan Holton, and Devin Williams.
- You had to wonder how much longer Huggins was going to allow Jonathan Holton to shoot threes. He was at 12% coming into this game, and missed his first one tonight, but hit a big one in the final minutes to extend the Mountaineer lead to double digits. He added another a few possessions later.
- Bob Knight: Great coach, pretty bad commentator. Not a fan. This was an actual Knight quote: "As long as you stay close, you have a chance to win." Well, that makes sense.
- West Virginia went on a 12-2 run in the first half after a Bob Huggins technical.
- NC State took 14 more free throws (35-21) than West Virginia. The Wolfpack were in the bonus with 13:37 to go in the game. Lots of sketchy foul calls tonight, including this one, which was apparently a foul on Gary Browne:
Overall, it was a solid win for the Mountaineers over a quality opponent on a national stage. There's a pretty good chance West Virginia is going to climb a couple spots in the national polls.
The Mountaineers return to action on Monday when they take on Wofford. The Terriers are 9-2 on the season and last week defeated NC State 55-54 in Raleigh. The game will be televised on local West Virginia stations. The good news for many Mountaineer fans is that this is the last game of the season that won't be televised nationally. Starting with Virginia Tech on December 30th, every game except one (@TCU on ROOT/FSSW) is televised by the ESPN family of networks. WVU/Wofford will tip at 7:30.