41 Point Victory a Tale of Two Halves for West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia jumped all over Mississippi Valley State to open Monday night's contest, but a lackadaisical defensive effort in the second half put a damper on the quick start and the Mountaineers' 107-66 win.

Within the first three minutes of Monday night's contest West Virginia went on a 17-0 run, crashing the boards and demoralizing Mississippi State with its full court pressure. That run set the tone for the Mountaineers, who kept the foot on the gas pedal for the remaining 17 minutes of the half and forced the Delta Devils into 18 turnovers and 30 percent shooting. But the second half was a different story as the Mountaineers' pressure got beat for lay-ups on several long passes and failed to have the same effect on the over-matched Delta Devils. The poor effort could be a byproduct of being up by 36 points at the intermission but Mountaineers players and coaches said if was unacceptable, especially after a very unspirited opener against Mount St. Mary's. Esa Ahmad said as much after the contest.

"We still have a lot to work on," Ahmad said. "The press wasn't as good as we wanted it to be. We could have made some better rotations. I think it was complacency. We're not playing against top talent but we got complacent and let off the gas pedal and (Mississippi Valley State) was scoring."

After the the game Mountaineer head man Bob Huggins made note that the unit made adjustments in their pressure but completely failed to execute and allowed MVSU to get 10 lay-ups. Huggins also added that out of four halves of basketball he has seen the Mountaineers play one good one, referring to the first half of this contest.

"Out of four halves we have played one so far," Huggins noted. "We gave up 10 lay-ups in the second half and we can't do that. We weren't running balls down from behind and we weren't slowing the dribbler down in the second half so we could run people down. We just haven't been able to play two halves yet."

Forward Nathan Adrian, who looks like the team's undisputed leader through the first two contests of the season echoed that sentiment.

"In the first half we played a lot better and we played how we know how to play," Adrian said. "We were causing turnovers and getting up and down like we should. We beat them by five in the second half and beat them by 40 in the first half and we can't win big games when we play half of a game."

Not everything was negative in the Mountaineers 41 point victory though, as Adrian continued to shine for the Mountaineers, earning his first career double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Four other players reached double figures as well for the Mountaineers as Teyvon Myers scored a career high 12 points, Brandon Watkins scored 12 and Jevon Carter and Esa Ahmad each chipped in 10 on the night. It appears this team may not have a player who can score in the upper teens on a night in and night out basis and the Mountaineers could have to rely on a balanced scoring attack going forward.

The Mountaineers will have almost an entire week to prepare for their match-up with New Hampshire before heading to Brooklyn for the preseason NIT. While the Mountaineers were able to dominate Mississippi Valley State (who came into the match-up with an RPI of 317) with just one solid half of play, it will take 40 minutes of good, fundamental basketball for the Mountaineers to defeat many of the remaining schools on the schedule.


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