West Virginia 71, NC State 60

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia's offensive balance and a timely defensive switch helped it overcome its interior deficiencies as the Mountaineers beat N.C. State 71-60 here Wednesday.

WVU hit 13 3-pointers, one off its season high, to help offset N.C. State's 28 points in the paint and 13 from the foul line in the inside-outside battle. Frank Young's 16 points led four players in double figures for the Mountaineers, now 6-1 for the third time in five seasons. N.C. State (5-2) lost its second consecutive game after winning its first five. Eight of WVU's 13 threes came in the second half, when a tiring Wolfpack team lacking depth could not stay with the Mountaineers' motion offense.

Young scored 13 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer with 6:46 left that put West Virginia ahead 56-51 after N.C. State pulled within a possession. That was part of a rally sparked by a switch from a man defense into the team's trademark 1-3-1 zone. The Wolfpack, which had stayed with West Virginia via its inside scoring, missed three consecutive shots from the outside. WVU took advantage, burying two 3-pointers around a jumper from Da'Sean Butler for a 61-51 lead with 4:52 remaining.

"The 1-3-1 has been causing everyone problems," said forward Joe Alexander, who finished with 15 points. "At the end of the game, I don't know if they got frazzled, but it definitely caused them problems."

Alexander helped seal the game with a baseline jumper from the corner with two minutes left. He them stole the ball and dunked before N.C. State was called for a charge with 1:30 remaining and West Virginia holding its largest lead of the game at 65-53. The Mountaineers, which scored 17 points on s many turnovers, made six of seven free throws in the final minute to finish the win.

"We tried to force them into turnovers, and that's the beauty of the 1-3-1," Young said. "That's what it is known for, creating turnovers. We made adjustments during the season half and tried to make it more frustrating for them."

Alex Ruoff added a career-high 15 points for WVU on five of six shooting from behind the arc. Darris Nichols had 11 points and eight assists for a team that has had four different leading scorers in its first six games.

"It shows we are a pass-oriented team and we don't have one superstar," Alexander said. "We don't have any selfish players. We have bought into coach (John) Beilein's system to shoot it when you're open and pass it when you're not. We bought into that."

N.C. State was led by Courtney Fells' game-high 17 points. It had two other players with 15, all of which played the full 40 minutes for a team badly lacking depth – it played just six players – after attrition from a coaching change this offseason.

"They force you to be disciplined for 40 minutes and there are a lot of teams that can't do that," first-year N.C. State head coach Sidney Lowe said. "We did a good job of figuring things out in the first half, but in the second half we tried to create too much ourselves and started turning it over."

It also could not guard West Virginia on the outside. Lowe said N.C. State starter Bryan Nieman was pulled after playing just eight total minutes for a lack of defensive effort after six of West Virginia's first nine second half field goals were 3-pointers. WVU hit four consecutive threes with N.C. State answering with points each time to take a 53-47 lead with 9:26 left.

The Wolfpack started 0-10 from the floor as West Virginia built a 9-2 lead with 16 minutes left in the first half. Devan Bawinkel's 3-pointer with 5:27 remaining in the half gave West Virginia its largest lead of the opening half at 21-12. N.C. State answered with an 11-2 run that tied the game at 23-23 with 2:46 left and the teams played evenly the rest of the way for a 28-28 halftime score. Five of the Wolfpack's points came from the foul line, where it made all nine attempts in an opening half that featured four ties. N.C. State hit 13 of 14 free throws overall.

WVU, which forced 17 turnovers that resulted in as many points, is now 6-2 in the Charleston Civic Center under Beilein, in his fifth year. There were seven ties in the game. West Virginia, now 48-10 when scoring 70 or more points under Beilein, never trailed. It is 2-0 against N.C. State in Charleston and leads the all-time series 8-7. WVU won at the then-No. 17 Wolfpack 82-69 last year. The Mountaineers have forced 155 turnovers in six games.

"There is always an innate rivalry between the Big East and the ACC," said Beilein, who improved to 4-0 at WVU against the ACC. "It's all about bragging rights. N.C. State obviously has a great team. The kids feel real good in the sense that they played real good in a semi-away game in front of the Charleston fans."


Pack Pride Top Stories