Now the Real Season Begins

As West Virginia ran away to an 82-45 victory against William & Mary Sunday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center, it was hard not to be impressed by this Mountaineer squad.

After struggling as much as it did against Purdue, WVU began looking a little more like its old self. The Mountaineers were running up and down, getting out in transition and forcing the Tribe to make a lot of mistakes and making shots from the perimeter.

West Virginia was aggressive and did what it needed to do in order to leave the Civic Center with a convincing win.

In short, the Mountaineers looked more like they did when they got out to their 5-1 start before dropping four of their next six. But like a lot of players brought up after the game, one has to consider the level of competition the Mountaineers were playing in this one.

William & Mary had a few things that it did well early on this season. The Tribe was among the top 50 nationally in field goal percentage and had a few players who could make plays. But like a lot of West Virginia's opponents in this non-conference portion of the schedule, the Mountaineers were just able to impose their will on the Tribe before rolling to a blowout victory.

Now it's time for the real tests for this WVU team as it's ready to move into Big 12 Conference play. Pushovers like William & Mary, Loyola (Md.) and Presbyterian are gone from the schedule, and now the rest of the season should play out a lot more like that stretch of games where this team has struggled.

It's going to be up to this team to grow up quickly. With teams like Oklahoma State and Kansas on the horizon, and in need of a lot of wins against Big 12 opponents to bolster its NCAA tournament resume, there won't be a ton of room for error.

The one thing you've been able to take from the Mountaineers through the first 13 games of the year is that they have been bale to handle business against the teams they should be able to beat handily. But a close game – especially against teams from major conferences that they will be competing with for at-large bids in the tournament – has been extremely difficult to come away with.

West Virginia was very good Sunday. Juwan Staten was the same thing he's been most of the season: Extremely difficult to stop in transition, successful beating defenders to the rim off the bounce and a good game manager at the point guard position. Terry Henderson continued to show great progress and looks to be as close to 100 percent as he's been all season.

And, of course, you can't forget about role players like Nathan Adrian and Kevin Noreen excelling at the things they're supposed to do to help lead this team to wins.

Defensively, West Virginia held William & Mary to 25.5 percent shooting – something it hasn't done since 2007, and even more impressive when you know that opponents were shooting 42 percent from the field against the Mountaineers this season.

But again, that's not something that should be too hard for this team to do against an opponent like William & Mary. The Mountaineers took care of business against an inferior opponent Sunday, much like it has all season.

The big test comes next when Big 12 teams start to come up. That's when you'll know where this group of Mountaineers really stands.


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