WVU Basketball Earns Easy Exhibition Win

The West Virginia men’s basketball used a gritty and aggressive defensive performance to defeat Shepherd 109-60 in an exhibition game at the Coliseum on Sunday.

The Mountaineers, using a press for much of the first half, finished with 20 steals and scored 43 points off turnovers en route to the victory. The pressure by WVU defensively gave the Rams all sorts of difficulties.

WVU used 15-6 run in the final eight minutes of the first half to take a double-digit lead, and the Rams could never recover. The Mountaineers never led by fewer than 13 points in the second half. West Virginia hit the 100-point mark with more than three minutes left to play.

"The key is that you put pressure on the ball and have an opportunity to create a turnover the length of the floor," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "The cumulative effect is that it wears people down. It will wear us down, too, but hopefully we have enough guys that we can survive that."

Senior point guard and preseason Big 12 Conference Player of the Year Juwan Staten had 11 points and three assists. He once again showed the quickness and elusiveness in the lane that he's so known for around the country, as well. Staten didn’t start and was removed following the under-eight minute timeout in the second half. He left knee was being iced after the game, as he continues to play and practice through some pain.

Guard Jaysean Paige had a solid game on both sides of the court. He finished with a team-high 13 points and added five key steals, many of which he finished at the rim.

"I felt comfortable out there. I just went out there and tried really hard," Paige said. "The press helps us a lot ... It's a big advantage come the end of the season for us."

Forwards Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams starred in the second half. Holton finished with nine points and six rebounds, including a few crowd-cheering dunks. Williams had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

WVU shot 51 percent (39-of-77) from the field and out-rebounded the Rams by 39.

"Knowing that I have a couple of guys down there rebounding with me, it's nice, because now I can run the floor, too," Williams said.

In total, the Mountaineers used all 16 players in the game, many of which will be expected to get significant time this season.

West Virginia begins its regular season on Friday against Monmouth at the Coliseum.

Shepherd had some luck from beyond the arc early, as guard Steffen Davis hit two early 3-pointers to take a 6-2 lead over the Mountaineers. West Virginia would regain the lead off of a three from Daxter Miles Jr.

The first half would really go back and forth, as WVU’s high-pressure defense didn’t catch the Rams off guard much in the first 10 minutes.

Forward Elijah Macon - who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds - gave WVU a 17-13 on a solid post move and layup. A Staten free throw would give the Mountaineers their biggest lead up to that point.

Nearing the 10-minute mark of the first half, WVU’s press would finally start to pay off, as Shepherd was unable to cross the half-court line on many possessions due to turnovers.

Paige was sensational during his time on the court in the first half, as he picked up two straight steals and buckets to give the Mountaineers a 25-19 advantage.

West Virginia started to pull away at the end of the first half. In the final eight minutes, the Mountaineers went on a 15-6 run that allowed them a 40-29 advantage at the break. WVU led by as many as 13 with 1:52 to play in the first half following a free throw from guard Jevon Carter.

A nifty offensive rebound and putback by forward Nate Adrian following a missed free throw ended the half on a solid note for West Virginia.

The second half gave West Virginia little trouble, as Shepherd continued to turn the ball over, and the Mountaineers could settle in and play its projected backups. WVU actually went on a 20-2 run midway through the second half to really dash any hopes from Shepherd fans in attendance of a Rams' comeback.

"After [Huggins[ talked with us at halftime, I think we just got comfortable and settled into the game," Staten said.

The Rams were led by Davis, who finished with 14 points.

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