First Half Run Pushes West Virginia Past Radford

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia used a large first half run to blow by the Highlanders in Tuesday evening's contest.

It took all of 10 minutes for West Virginia to overwhelm and dismantle a hapless Radford team. The Highlanders, who entered Tuesday night's contest at 4-6, kept it close for the first 10 minutes as they were able to routinely set up in their half court offense and take advantage of some sloppy offensive play by the Mountaineers. Radford battled its way to just a five point deficit as it hit four of its seven first three pointers and trailed just 23-18 at the 10 minute mark. But then West Virginia buckled down, regained its focus and went on a large run that coliseum crowds have become all to accustomed to seeing as the Mountaineers bully their non-conference opponents.

West Virginia's press forced several turnovers and completely rattled the Highlanders, who couldn't inbound the ball with any consistency, let alone get it past half court. That frenetic pressure defense forced 12 of its 21 first half turnovers in a 23-0 run that lasted a little over seven minutes. In the run, Jevon Carter made several nice defensive plays and scored some buckets in transition and Tarik Phillip provided a big spark off of the bench. Carter would match a season high 13 points in the first half alone. The Highlanders eventually scored again at the 3:00 mark, cutting the Mountaineer lead to 46-20, but by that point it was far too late and the game was well in hand. The Mountaineers took a 53-22 lead into the locker room, gaining 31 of those 53 points off of turnovers.

In the second half head coach Bob Huggins took advantage of the large lead and gave each of his freshmen time to work with more experienced players on the floor. The Mountaineers retained a 30-plus point lead for the majority of the second half despite playing with the same level of intensity that they displayed in the first 20 minutes and closed out the game with a final score of 84-57.

Esa Ahmad led the Mountaineers with 17 points, Jevon Carter scored a season high 15 and Tarik Phillip played his best game of the season, scoring 13 while going two of three from behind the arc.

But despite the 27 point victory, many players seemed displeased with the overall effort and lack of focus that was showed outside of the first half run. Tarik Phillip shared his thoughts on the poor second half performance after the game.

"We have backtracked for a couple of games," Phillip admitted. "These games are supposed to be good for us and good for freshmen to get their feet wet but the guys who have been here before took plays off. It's not something that we should do but it happens."

West Virginia has just one more non-conference game remaining before the season starts heating up as the Mountaineers take on Northern Kentucky on Friday at 4:00 p.m. The Mountaineers will again be heavily favored but the Norse will ride into Morgantown on a six game winning streak.

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