Alex Ruoff's 14 points and defensive reliance earn Player of the Game honors in No. 24 West Virginia's 77-54 win over Canisius in Buffalo on Saturday.
The Mountaineers didn't play well in any phase, yet was able to win a sloppy, sometimes ugly outing. Ruoff was a main reason. He was dependable with the basketball, moved well with opponents on defense, guarded the perimeter and was generally the most consistent player on the floor. He was six points shy of Joe Alexander's 20 points. But he also didn't commit the major mistakes and again played within the offensive and defensive schemes. Ruoff hit two 3-pointers during a 17-2 WVU run that gave the Mountaineers a comfortable lead for good after the Golden Griffins (1-10) threatened early.
Joe Alexander. He led all scorers with 20 points, and made 10 of 11 free throws. But the forward again disappeared for some stretches, played out of control at times and turned the ball over along the 3-point arc and inside the paint. He also misjudged his leaping ability and missed a dunk when the ball ricocheted off the rim. The scoring is difficult to ignore, however, and in an often slow-paced game, the 20 points helped West Virginia secure head coach Bob Huggins' 600th career win.
Bob Huggins. The coach, in his 26th year, earned win No. 600 via a scrappy, unimpressive display. The guided the Mountaineers (10-1) through bad stretches and essentially allowed his team to play out of its funk. That didn't happen quickly, but, at times, a veteran coach displays his ability by not over-mentoring. Huggins is the sixth winningest active Division I coach in the nation. The Morgantown native joined Texas Tech's Bob Knight, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Arizona's Lute Olson, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and UConn's Jim Calhoun, all of whom have already passed the 750-win mark.
Huggins became the 29th coach to reach the plateau. The win was a bit of revenge. Canisius' last victory against a ranked opponent came versus Huggin's Cincinnati team in 1994. The Griffs are off to their worst start since they started 1-11 in 1987-88.
Da'Sean Butler. He overcame lengthy sleeves – the sophomore slasher wore an undershirt that extended down to his elbows – to score 10 points on four of eight shooting from the floor. Butler made his usual contribution, and in a game where there wasn't a ton of great play, Butler's solidity stuck out. He was also a main contributor to a defense that held Canisius to 17 points per game. WVU hit 26 of 52 shots overall (.500).