Usually when you think of West Virginia's tantalizing pressure defense you picture the Mountaineers turning over the opposition behind the half court line and getting several easy buckets in the process - yes, there were plenty of those moments in West Virginia's 90-37 win but the Mountaineers' half court defense was equally as impressive in Wednesday night's blowout victory over Western Carolina.
The Mountaineers forced the Catamounts into 34 turnovers and turned those opportunities into 37 points and held Western Carolina to a putrid 26 percent shooting effort (13-50) on the night. When the Catamounts did break West Virginia's pressure they were often met with stiff resistance and very rarely got off clean looks against an the Mountaineers and they were visibly worn down and frustrated for the majority of the night. The strong defensive effort was highlighted by a trio of guards as Jevon Carter, Tarik Phillip and Teyvon Myers picked up a combined 14 steals, or two-thirds of West Virginia's total steals on the night. Carter came up with a game high six steals and Phillip and Myers each came off the bench to grab five and three steals respectively.
At times the Mountaineers' defense looked so dominant that you wondered whether or not the Catamounts would even break the 30 point barrier on the night - most notably during a 10 and a half minute stretch in which Western Carolina failed to score a single point (the drought lasted from the 7:39 mark in the first half into the 17:00 mark in the second half - over a fourth of the game). And had head coach Bob Huggins left his starters in for an extended period of time its safe to say the Mountaineers probably would have held the Catamounts to under 30 points and topped the school record of 40 turnovers that they forced against Manhattan just over a week ago.
The 37 points the Mountaineers allowed on Wednesday night is the lowest point total a West Virginia team has given up since 2006 when it beat Slippery Rock 87-37 under then-head coach John Beilein. The performance is rather indicative of what West Virginia has been doing to opponents for the majority of the non-conference slate (actually for all of it besides the first half against Temple) as the Mounaineers entered Wednesday's contest allowing just 60.3 points and forcing 25.4 turnovers per contest. Both of those numbers will improve after tonight's performance and with a weak slate remaining before opening conference play against Oklahoma State on Dec 30, it's safe to say that Press Virginia will continue to put up some gaudy defensive numbers over the next three weeks.
West Virginia will head back to Morgantown and take on a 1-6 VMI team on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.