Mountaineers Record Eye-Popping Numbers in Rout

It was all in the numbers as West Virginia rolled to an 86-52 win over outmanned St. John's on Wednesday at the WVU Coliseum.

West Virgina set one school record and established an assist-to-basket ratio that could be another as they cruised past the Red Storm.

The assist stat was the most amazing number of the evening, as the Mountaineers had 26 assists on their 29 made shots, which surely must be some sort of WVU record. Do-everything Joe Herber led the parade with six assists, and only three players failed to get on the board in the assist column.

Duriel Price's three-pointer at the buzzer gave West Virginia 14 treys, breaking their record of 13 set against Notre Dame on Febrary 2, 2000. The number was also a Coliseum record, breaking the existing home record of 11 against Buffalo, set on December 11, 1991.

"I heard the coaches say 'don't shoot', but I told Coach Neubauer I didn't hear it," Price said with a smile after the game. "The guys were telling me to shoot, so I just took a dribble and knocked it down."

Neubauer, acting as head coach for the game in place of ailing head coach John Beilein, smiled when asked about the shot.

"I stil haven't figured out how to handle that," Neubauer joked when asked about Price's shot, which came against calls from the coaching staff to hold the ball. "I'll probaby have to call Coach Beilein for some advice on how to handle that one."

That would be the only advice Neubauer, coaching his first game as a head coach other than scattered AAU games, would need. He did a masterful job of staying cool, consulting with fellow assistants Matt Brown and Jerry Dunn, and keeping his team focused and under control.

WVU got off to a slow start, falling behind 4-0 and not scoring until 2:29 had elapsed. However, after the Johnnies took a 6-3 lead, the Mountaineers ran off a 38-12 run that put them up by 41-18 with 3:30 to go in the half. St. John's hit a jumper and a pair of free thorws to cut the halftime margin to 41-22, but the game at that point was a foregone conclusion.

West Virgina shot the lights out in the opening period, hitting half of their three pointers (9-18) and all four of their free throws. The Gold and blue shot 56% from the field in the opening half and held the Red Storm to just 29.4% from the floor.

The second half was more of the same. WVU extended the lead to as many as 37 points and were never threatened by the Red Storm, who had only two effective offensive players. Hot-dogging guard Daryll Hill scored 21 points on 7-21 shooting, while Kyle CUffe had a more efficient 17 points on 8-16 from the field. Both played 40 minutes in the game.

In contrast, only Joe Herber (32 minutes) played more than 30 for WVU. Herber's line score (13 points, nine rebounds, six assists two blocked shots and a steal) was so quiet as to be overlooked. Every eligible Mountaineer played in the game, with Jerrah and Frank Young getting 13 and 10 minutes respectively, while walkons Jonathan Curran (four) and Price (three) got their most extensive action.

WVU was able to fire up 31 three pointers during the game due to St. John's defensive strategy, which was to sit back and play zone. Without the personell to play their normal uptempo game, the Red Storm were forced to play conservatively, but that strategy left the three point line unguarded for the sharpshooting Mountaineers, who made the visitors pay for their choice of defenses. WVU also outrebounded St. John's by a 39-36 count, and forced 16 Red Storm turnovers.

About the only thing disappointing about the game was the crowd, which was a meager 5816. With school in session, and not much else happening on a good weather Wednesday night, a home game against a Big East foe, given the Mountaineers' current success, should draw about twice as many.

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