Coming into this game with a record of 8-5, Eastern Kentucky had lost three of its last four games, including a 24-point loss to the Marshall Thundering Herd and a 21-point defeat at the hands of its state’s banner program: The Kentucky Wildcats.
Despite their recent losing ways, the Colonels have not been without individual brilliance this season. Freshman Nick Mayo has been named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Week four times this year, and senior forward Jarelle Reishchel from Frankfurt, Germany is the only player in Division-1 with over 250 points and 100 rebounds on the season.
The Colonels were at a disadvantage from the tip in this game, as Reischel was unable to participate due to a bout with back spasms.
Eastern Kentucky entered this contest shooting just under 43-percent as a team from beyond the arc, which ranks ninth in the NCAA.
West Virginia entered this contest ranked No. 19 after bouncing back from a loss to Virginia with back-to-back blowout wins over Louisiana-Monroe and Marshall.
WVU’s leading scorer, forward Devin Williams, had struggled to get involved in the offense early in games recently, but chipped in the team’s first bucket after pulling down an offensive rebound. He followed that up with a mid-range jumper to get the Mountaineers off and running.
Williams had a hand in the Mountaineers’ third basket to open the game as well, hitting Daxter Miles Jr. on a nice slip to the basket for an uncontested layup.
It was a disjointed start on offense for West Virginia, as the Mountaineers missed eight of their first 12 shots from the floor and allowed Eastern Kentucky to jump out to an early 12-8 lead. West Virginia woke up mid-way through the first half, outscoring the Colonels 42-10 over the last 12:37, and took a 50-22 lead into the locker room.
Jaysean Paige has been a spark off the bench for this team all year, and that continued in the first half tonight. The senior poured in 17 points in 13 minutes of first half action, drilling four of the seven 3s he took in the game’s first period.
West Virginia’s press eventually got to Eastern Kentucky after the Colonels early run. Eastern Kentucky gave it up 11 times in the first half, which led to 15 Mountaineer points, turning a close game into a run-away by WVU.
The old adage of win by the 3, die by the 3 held true for Eastern Kentucky in the game’s opening frame. More than half of the shots the Colonels fired in the first half were from behind the arc, and they were able to hit just two of 10 in the first 20 minutes.
West Virginia let its foot off the gas early in the second half, and was outscored 24-16 by Eastern Kentucky in the first 10 minutes of the final stanza.
A 10-0 run by the Mountaineers from the eight minute mark to the four minute mark restored their lead to 28 at 80-52 and allowed Bob Huggins to rotate some role players into the game for some valuable minutes in the last portion of the contest.
For the game, West Virginia forced 18 Eastern Kentucky turnovers, while coughing it up just 10 times itself. Although he didn’t score in the second half, Jaysean Paige’s 17 points were good for the team lead in the Mountaineers’ 84-59 victory.