WVU Wins Opener

While the West Virginia men's basketball team wasn't able to earn a run-away victory in its season opener against Mount St. Mary's, it never trailed in a 77-62 win on Friday in the Coliseum.

The Mountaineers could only muster as big of a lead as 16 points, but it didn't matter, as the Mount couldn't put enough shots in the bucket in the second half to make it close.

Overall, the Mountaineers shot an impressive 56 percent from the field against an aggressive 2-3 zone and press defensive scheme from Mount St. Mary's. WVU hit 67 percent of its shots in the second half. The Mount finished shooting 40 percent from the field.

"We made a conscious effort to get some guys who could make some shots," said head coach Bob Huggins. Four players scored in double figures for West Virginia, led by guards Eron Harris and Juwan Staten who combined for 41 points. Staten had a career-high.

"Eron knows that it's my job to get him the ball when he's open, and I'm going to be finding him all game, because he's a good shooter and scorer," Staten said. "When the spot's open for me, I have to take mine, as well, and step up."

Freshman forward Nathan Adrian had 11 points including three 3-pointers. He left the game late after tweaking what looked to be his ankle. Freshman center Brandon Watkins had 10, as well.

"It's a great feeling knowing that we can get these things right early, and as we continue to play together we're only going to get better," Staten said.

The Mountaineers started two freshmen, Adrian and Devin Williams, for the first time since the 2002-03 season (J.D. Collins and Joe Herber). In total, five newcomers played for WVU.

"We're more focused this year. We don't have anyone with a selfish mind. We're all ready to be receptive in practice and take anything that Huggs wants to give to us," Harris said. "We go out there and play for each other."

WVU was without sophomore guard Terry Henderson, who is still nursing an inflamed lower leg. The Mountaineers did see forward Remi Dibo, who had four points. He had been recovering from minor knee surgery. Transfer Jonathan Holton did not play or dress.

WVU came out of the gate hot, shooting 86 percent of its shots through the first five minutes of the game en route to a 14-10 lead including a three from Adrian. Three freshmen – Adrian, Williams and Watkins – scored buckets in that span of the game.

The Mountaineers took their biggest lead of the game at eight at 20-12 on a jumper by Staten, as they were able to hold Mount St. Mary's scoreless from the field for more than three minutes.

The Mount would hit two straight threes to jump back to within one possession of WVU with less than nine minutes to play in the first half.

The Mountaineers finished off the half on a 13-7 run, and that gave WVU a 41-32 lead heading into the second half.

Perhaps what was most impressive about the first half was the 67 percent shooting by West Virginia. Harris and Harris hit double figures in the first 20 minutes, and Watkins was two points shy at the break.

WVU jumped out to its biggest lead of the game to start the second half on a three from Adrian to make it 44-32.

Williams was hitting in the second half for the Mountaineers. He had five straight points to give WVU a 51-38 lead about five minutes into the second half.

An impressive, athletic layup and free throw from Harris with less than six minutes to play gave WVU a 67-54 lead. It would coast to the finish after that.

Forward Julian Norfleet, who had 16 points and seven assists, led Mount St. Mary's. The Mount out-rebounded the Mountaineers 30-28 and had four more points in the paint.

WVU only had eight turnovers in the win.

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