On his day, in his hometown, it's only fitting that Darris Nichols is the BlueGoldNews.com player of the game.
There's no sentimentality in this pick, however, Nichols had a tremendous stat line in rallying WVU from an early 11-3 deficit en route to a 90-60 win of the host Radford Highlanders.
Nichols scored 23 points on 7-11 shooting, with all seven field goals coming from beyond the three-point line. He added two free throws for his final total.
That was only the first part of Nichols' numbers, however, He had eight assists, blocked three shots (a fourth was taken away on a horrendous call) and added two steals and two rebounds in 38 minutes of action. About the only negative of the night was a single turnover -- which is a blemish akin to the mole on Cindy Crawford's face.
Perhaps the best measure of Nichols, and the way he plays the game, came late in the contest. With WVU leading by thirty points, a loose ball on the Radford end went rolling toward the sideline. Nichols ended a full out sprint with a headlong dive that forced a held ball situation. The sequence fully demonstrated the appropriateness of the honor that Nichols earned earlier in the evening.
Alex Ruoff was the other big part ofWest Virginia's rally, and helped keep the Mountaineers in the game early on when others' shots weren't falling. Ruoff hit five threes of his own and added a pair of twisting, acrobatic layups on the way to 23 points, which tied with Nichols for game high honors.
Joe Mazzulla also displayed a bit of growth in the game as he continued his campaign to cut down on turnovers. Mazzulla had five assists against a single giveaway, and kept the offense flowing more consistently than he has in earlier appearances. He made good decisions with the ball in terms of when to shoot it, when to pass it and when to drive it, and ended the game with five assists against just one turnover.
Free throw shooting was also a key component in the contest. After Joe Mazzulla missed WVU's only two free throw attempts of the first half, the Mountaineers proceeded to can 10 of their 11 second half tries. In contrast, Radfor made just two of its nine attempts from the line.