Mountaineers Schooled

The philosopher Santayana once said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

West Virginia obviously hasn't taken any philosophy classes, as they repeated their errors of the opening half at the start of the second stanza against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.

The result was a 79-66 loss that plunged WVU deeper in the basement of the Big East West Division.

WVU repeated the same pattern in the opening minutes of both halves, and the outcomes were eerily similar. The Mountaineers jacked up three pointers and rushed shots from all angles, handled the ball poorly and failed to get the ball to Chris Moss inside in the first five minutes of each period.

In the opening half, the outcome was that WVU fell behind 18-2 before righting the ship by working the ball inside to Moss, who is WVU's only consistent threat at this point.

In the opening minutes of the second half, WVU again fired away at will while ignoring Moss, even though Rutgers failed to double team him or adjust their defense after his strong first half effort.

And just as in the first half, WVU gave up a huge opening run. This time, it was a 20-4 blowout that pushed Rutgers in front by a score of 52-33 and all but ended the game.

The Mountaineers threatened the Big East record of 35 turnovers in a game, but fell short by only committing 30.

WVU was faced with a Hobson's choice at point guard. With Jonathan Hargett and Jay Hewitt alternating at the one, WVU by turns failed to work the ball inside, shot it too quickly, or was unable to even get the ball upcourt without turning it over. Those problems kept the Mountaineers' halfcourt offense from generating any kind of flow and allowed Rutgers several transition baskets in both of their first half runs.

WVU's first half woes began at the opening tip, as the Scarlet Knights won the tipoff and proceeded to pound the Mountaineers on the offensive boards. Rutgers rode several offensive rebounds plus a flurry of West Virginia turnovers to an 18-2 lead in the game's opening minutes.

WVU was so bad that they didn't score their first field goal until the 11:46 mark of the first half, and had ten turnovers in the opening 12 minutes. A disgusted Gale Catlett called timeout after Rutgers opened their 16 point lead and benched the majority of his starting lineup.

The Mountaineers promptly moved back into the game on the strength of their bench, which came on en masse after the sad opening showing. Jay Hewitt, Drew Schifino, Josh Yeager and Chris Garnett fueled a steady comeback that put WVU within double figures before the starters began to return.

As usual, West Virginia's good play was fueled by the interior work of Chris Moss, who attacked the basket and got to the foul line several times. Moss hit all eight of his first half free throws to lead WVU in a 15-17 first half performance from the line.

West Virginia drew even at 27 all before Rutgers tallied five points to lead 32-29 at the half.

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