Crash and Burn

Head coach John Beilein recently warned that a bad shooting game could come along at any time, and those words proved to be prophetic in WVU's Big East opener on Wednesday.

The Mountaineers couldn't have thrown a ball into the ocean from the beach as they shot 4-24 from three-point range in a hideous 84-46 loss to Villanova (8-1, 1-0). West Virginia (10-1, 0-1) shot an even more horrendous 6-30 from the field in the first half, falling behind by 20 points at the break.

WVU was bothered throughout the game by Villanova's pressure. The Wildcats denied WVU's inbound passes to point guards in the backcourt, and kept West Virginia from getting into their halfcourt offense smoothly.

"I don't know if we got shook or not, but for those guys to turn the ball over at the start of the game is not characteristic," Beilein said of his point guards, who had seven turnovers and zero assists in the contest. "They really got after us."

Despite the bad start, WVU was still in the game, trailing just 12-10 after a Tyrone Sally three-pointer. However, the Wildcats outscored WVU 26-8 the rest of the way, providing the big twenty-point bulge at the break.

"I thought there was a pivotal five-minute span in the first half where we weren't playing well, but we were just down two," Beilein said. "Then suddenly we're down 13, and down 15. There were some unique decisions from some of our guys, but we will learn from it."

Those "unique" decisions were obviously bad ones, as WVU failed to drive aggressively against the Wildcat defense as it had against George Washington and North Carolina State. As a result, the Mountaineers' read and cut halfcourt offense fell apart, and the rout was on.

Even more critical than the loss on the floor was the loss of Patrick Beilein and J.D. Collins, both of whom suffered ankle sprains. Collins, who went out midway through the first half, watched the rest of the game with an ice bag on his ankle, while Beielin, who injured his ankle on an undercut in the second half, joined him. WVU scored just five points in the first half after Collins went to the bench.

No update was immediately available on either player's status for Saturday's game against St. John's.

"We played a very good team, a very underrated team," Beilein said. "They have great quickness, and they rebound the ball better than anyone we have played."

Mike Gansey had nine rebounds for West Virginia, but made just one of his eight shot attempts. He was joined in shooting miseries by Kevin Pittsnogle (0-5), Patrick Beilein (1-8), Darris Nichols (1-5) and Tyrone Sally (3-9).

West Virginia now makes a quick trip home, and has just two days to prepare for surprising St. John's at the Coliseum Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The Red Storm is 6-4, having won four of its past five games heading into tonight's contest with Syracuse. The Johnnies smacked Virginia Tech and North Carolina State for two of those four wins.

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