If ever a game could be described as a "Tale of Two Halves," it was today's game. The Mountaineers turned a three point halftime lead into a second half laugher as #17 West Virginia (12-1) defeated Virginia Tech (8-5) 82-51 on Tuesday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.
The first twenty minutes weren't pretty, and that is putting it lightly. The two teams combined for 22 first half turnovers. West Virginia had a 14-5 lead five minutes in, and looked like they may put the Hokies away early, but it wasn't to be just yet. Virginia Tech shot 55% in the first half and some breakdowns by the Mountaineer defense led to some easy buckets. Bob Huggins went with Chase Conner for an extended period in the first half, hoping he could provide the spark he did last season against TCU, but Conner was only 1-3 from deep. Nathan Adrian gave West Virginia his best minutes of the season in the half, with he and Juwan Staten combining for 18 of WVU's 33 first half points. The Mountaineers held a 33-30 lead at the break.
The thing about this team, though, is that they can quickly turn a one-possession game into a double-digit lead in a hurry. That's what happened today. #PressVirginia took over and Buzz Williams had to call a quick timeout less than three minutes in after the West Virginia lead had ballooned to 42-32. The lead never got below 10 again, and with West Virginia holding a 58-41 lead, Jevon Carter's defense again had an impact:
The Mountaineer domination continued for the rest of the game on their way to a 31 point victory. Virginia Tech was held to 21 second half points.
West Virginia was led by Juwan Staten with 18 points and 4 assists. Gary Browne added 12 on 4-6 shooting. Jevon Carter only scored three points, but his damage was done on the other end of the court. Carter hounded the Tech guards all day on his way to 5 steals. Devin Williams was a bucket away from a double-double, scoring 9 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Nathan Adrian had his best game to date, scoring 9 on 4-5 shooting and adding 3 steals.
Virginia Tech was led by Adam Smith and Satchel Pierce with 10 each.
Some quick notes:
- No dancing to Country Roads for Buzz Williams today. One of the loudest ovations of the game was when the Virginia Tech bench got a technical midway through the second half.
- Speaking of the crowd, I was expecting some empty seats today, but Mountaineer Nation came through. The announced attendance was 13,330. Well done.
- For Staten to be a first round pick in the NBA draft, he's going to have to take & make outside shots. He was 3-4 from three today.
- West Virginia again forced a boatload of turnovers. Virginia Tech had 25 on the day.
- The Mountaineers had 16 offensive rebounds and won the overall rebound battle 36-22.
On Saturday, the Mountaineers begin Big 12 conference play when they travel to Fort Worth to take on the TCU Horned Frogs. TCU is 13-0 and is much improved from last season. Their record is probably a little deceiving (their non-conference schedule was weak), but they're still a pretty good team. The game tips at 4:00 PM and will be televised by Root Sports and Fox Sports Southwest. Every game after TCU will be televised by one of the ESPN channels.