Youth Not Served

West Virginia's youth was bound to show up in a big way at some point this season. It happened Friday night, when the Mountaineers couldn't solve Seton Hall's 2-3 zone defense early and never could completely rally in a 67-48 loss at the Prudential Center.

The young WVU team finally looked like it. Its last lead came at 7-5, when freshman Jabarie Hinds made a floater.

The Pirates promptly responded with a 20-5 run, taking control of the game by using Herb Pope early and often. The Mountaineers' Deniz Kilicli, again trying to play through the pain of a hip pointer sustained in a win over Missouri State last week, was no match for Pope, who was borderline unstoppable, scoring eight points in the game's first 10 minutes.

When West Virginia (10-4, 1-1) tried to devote extra attention to Pope, it paid the price. SHU's Jordan Theodore backcut the Mountaineers repeatedly, seemingly paper-cutting them to death. When the defense sagged toward the interior to stop the backcuts, Pirates players made open perimeter shots.

On the other end, points were at a premium. The hosts' 2-3 zone defense confounded coach Bob Huggins' team all night long. Quality shots were few and far between, and more disturbingly, the zone still managed to force WVU into 18 turnovers.

Huggins, on his postgame appearance on the Mountaineer Sports Network, said his players simply didn't execute what was called from the sidelines. He seemed exasperated at the mistakes made by his players.

"We can't get everybody on the same page," he declared.

"It gets really frustrating, particularly after a timeout when you draw something up. We can say that's youth, but we're 14 games in now with an exhibition, a scrimmage and a trip to Europe. So those excuses are starting to wear out."

Seton Hall's lead ballooned, its lead growing as large as 18 points in the final moments of the first half. WVU's Truck Bryant answered with a 3-pointer to make it a 38-22 game at halftime.

The Mountaineers looked to garner some momentum early in the second half. Pope picked up a quick third foul, and West Virginia slowly started to eat away at the deficit near the midpoint of the half.

A quick 8-0 run, the result of 3-pointers from Gary Browne and Kevin Jones sandwiched around a pair of Kilicli free throws, got back within 52-44. Browne hit a shot a few minutes later to make it 54-48.

But that basket, scored with 6:52 left, would provide WVU's final points of the game. A 13-0 run ensued, with SHU's Fuquan Edwin scoring six of those 13 points to put the contest out of reach.

"We don't score again because we won't stay in what we're supposed to stay in," Huggins said. "You saw it -- I'm running guys in and out, trying to get somebody to do what I'm going to ask them to do."

The box score showed just how ugly Friday's contest was. West Virginia fared worse in essentially every major statistic. It shot 31.5 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range and only 66.7 percent from the free throw line. It was outrebounded by seven and turned the ball over 18 times.

The Mountaineers' 48 points were the program's fewest in a game since a Nov. 2008 loss to Kentucky.

Edwin led Seton Hall with 19 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Theodore added 18 points and eight assists without committing a turnover. Pope finished with only 13 points as he stayed on the bench due to foul trouble for much of the second half, but WVU couldn't take advantage.

Jones scored 15 points for Huggins' squad, but was only 5-of-16 from the field. Ditto for Truck Bryant, who followed up a career-high 34 point outing against Villanova by making only 3-of-16 shots against SHU for 11 points.

"We're not going to win with those guys shooting the ball like that," Huggins said.

West Virginia will make another road trip to the Garden State for its next game, as it plays at Rutgers on Jan. 4 -- the same night the Mountaineer football team will face Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Huggins already was hoping for a better performance. It couldn't get much worse, he opined.

"We just didn't play, and it's embarrassing," he said. "I'm embarrassed for our coaching staff, I'm embarrassed for our University, and I'm embarrassed for our state. That was an embarrassing performance."


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