Seventeen first half points - including four three pointers - by senior Jaysean Paige put the game away early for West Virginia as the #19 Mountaineers (10-1) picked up the victory over Eastern Kentucky (8-6) 84-59 Monday night at the Coliseum.
Eleven minutes in, Eastern Kentucky led 14-12. The final nine minutes of the first half saw West Virginia outscore the Colonels 36-10 including an 18-1 run to take a 50-22 lead into the half.
In the final seconds of the first half, Tarik Phillip stole the inbound pass and fed freshman Esa Ahmad for an emphatic slam:
That had to feel really good for Ahmad who has struggled as of late.
Eastern Kentucky had their own success behind the three point line in the second half and actually outscored West Virginia 37-34 in the second.
Jaysean Paige's 17 first half points were enough to lead the team in tonight's game. Paige was 6-12 from the field and 4-7 from three. Devin Williams scored 15 and grabbed 8 rebounds. Daxter Miles and Jevon Carter round out the double-figure scorers with 12 and 11, respectively. The backcourt combined for only 3 turnovers.
Eastern Kentucky was led by Javontae Hawkins with 16 and Jaylen Babb-Harrison with 15. Full boxscore here.
West Virginia cut down on the turnovers tonight, committing only 10 and forcing 18. They shot 49.2% from the field and 41.7% from three on 24 attempts.
- EKU was without their leading scorer Jarelle Reischel. Reischel is averaging nearly 20 points per game this season and sat out with back spasms.
- An effort was made tonight to run some offense through Ahmad. He received several touches in the post and still had issues with throwing the ball away.
- I mentioned in our preview today that West Virginia was really good at getting offensive rebounds, and Eastern Kentucky was really bad at giving them up. The Mountaineers finished with 15 tonight.
- Teyvon Myers got some significant playing time tonight after seeing the court for only one minute against Marshall.
- Good GRIEF they have some horrible announcers calling games on ESPNU. This is the second group in a row that has obsessed with the Big 12 preseason rankings. Why? I miss Rob King and Warren Baker.
The Mountaineers have one more nonconference test before Big 12 play begins when they travel to Blacksburg to take on Buzz Williams and Virginia Tech.
The Mountaineers blew a huge lead and fell to the Hokies 87-82 in their last matchup in Blacksburg. West Virginia got a measure of revenge last season when they crushed the Hokies 82-51 in Morgantown. The game tips at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, December 30th and is again televised by ESPNU and WatchESPN.