An Ugly Win

West Virginia was flat from start to finish in an 86-54 win over Longwood.

It wasn't pretty, and for West Virginia's coaches and players it certainly wasn't pleasing, but at the end of the day, it was a win.

Freshman guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant came off the bench to score 16 points as West Virginia improved to 2-0 on the young season with an 86-54 win over Longwood College in opening round action of the Las Vegas Invitational.

Bryant's best moments came in the midst of a 24-7 West Virginia run to close the first half. The rookie from Brooklyn knocked down a 3, collected a steal which led to a dunk and moments later assisted on a 3 by senior guard Alex Ruoff, all of which took place in the final 1:11 of the first half.

Bryant's flurry was one of the few bright spots on the night for the Mountaineers, who stayed in the locker room an extra 10 minutes or so before postgame interviews listening to what one can only guess was a spirited heart-to-heart from head coach Bob Huggins.

West Virginia turned the ball over 23 times against the undermanned and independent Lancers (2-2).

"I told them we can't turn it over 23 times," said Huggins after the game. "We can't work as hard as we did defensively and have more turnovers than our opposition (the Lancers finished with 21). They were careless turnovers (by the Mountaineers)."

While every other area of the stat sheet would seem to indicate a West Virginia victory, it was the things that didn't show up in the box score that irked Huggins the most. Namely, a lack of enthusiasm was evident from the opening tip.

Part of that certainly can be attributed to the quality of opponent West Virginia was facing.

"I think at the end of the day what (the players) all appreciate about our staff is we don't lie to them," Huggins explained. "We didn't go and tell them that (the Lancers) were anything that they weren't. On our coaching staff, we have about 100 years worth of coaching experience.

"These are good guys. They are wonderful guys. We don't have one jerk in the bunch," Huggins continued. "They worked like crazy this summer. What we do weight training-wise is hard, but they love it because they see the results. They all worked out. They played hard all the time. They'd drive to Pittsburgh and play in the summer leagues.

"When practice starts, it's hard. Three hours is hard. It's harder than anything any of them have done at this point in their career. To not come out when you have people in the stands and not play with the enthusiasm and energy, I don't understand."

Again, the numbers on the stat sheet – including the final score – would indicate a dominating effort by the Mountaineers. West Virginia doubled up the Lancers on the boards by a count of 54-27. Included in that total were 19 offensive rebounds, which resulted in 16 second-chance points for WVU.

Defensively, the Mountaineers held Longwood to just 30.4 percent shooting for the game, including a 3-15 effort from downtown.

Even still, something just seemed to be missing from West Virginia.

"When Da'Sean turns it over five times in (the first) half, something is wrong because he goes three hours (in practice) and doesn't turn it over," Huggins noted. "Da'Sean and Alex (Ruoff) didn't play very well and those are two guys we depend on."

West Virginia's most experienced duo combined to shoot just 8-18 from the field. Ruoff was 2-8 from behind the three-point arc. Butler attempted just six shots total in the game. Both players scored 19 points to lead the Mountaineers over Elon last weekend.

"It's going to be very interesting to see how (WVU's) year goes," said Longwood head coach Mike Gillian. "They have all of the physical capabilities. They are obviously going to have to make some shots. They have to make some jump shots. They may have the capability to do that. They spent the whole second half standing on the foul line, shooting free throws. It's tough to judge from that."

The Mountaineers took 28 shots from the charity stripe in the second half, making 19. For the game, West Virginia was 28-44 from the line.

Dana Smith of Longwood led all scorers with 17 points. Bryant and Butler chipped in 12 points apiece for West Virginia.

The Mountaineers will continue preliminary round action of the Las Vegas Invitational next Tuesday when they take on Delaware State inside the Charleston Civic Center.


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