No Record, But Respect

In a game that entered garbage time by about the ten-minute mark of the first half, it would have been easy for Alex Ruoff to chase a record that he was halfway to breaking. But West Virginia's senior leader simply isn't built that way.

Ruoff, who hit six three-pointers in the first half, was just two away from tying the mark held by Chris Leonard, Mike Gansey and Frank Young. He had twenty minutes in which to do so, in a game that had long since been decided. No one would have blamed him for doing that. He hadn't forced a single shot in the opening half, so what would have been the harm in firing away for the record?

First, there was the matter of the opening half. Ruoff was in "the zone" – the fabled place where everything looks good and the hoop is the size of a manhole.

"Shooters know that feeling," Ruoff said after the game. "It was just one of those nights. A couple of them I didn't feel like I had control of them, and they went in. My teammates found me and I got lucky."

Luck, of course, is the place where preparation meets opportunity, and Ruoff was well prepared for the game. Following a subpar shooting night against Longwood, Ruoff took to the court again after the game to rediscover his stroke and his rhythm. That extra work certainly appeared to pay off against the Hornets, as he sank his first three shots (all threes). The opportunity segment also figured, as Delaware State sagged inside to help contain WVU drives to the basket. However, that left shooters open on the perimeter, and Ruoff responded by nailing six of his nine three-point attempts, while suffering an in-and-out roll on the seventh. And none of his six makes were flukes either – most ripped the twine or barely grazed the rim on their way through the net.

That brings us to the second half. With WVU leading by 34, there wouldn't be any harm in taking a couple of shots that might be outside the bounds of the offense. After all, shooters riding a hot streak are expected to fire away until it cools, right? But for Ruoff, who has reshaped his game twice in adapting to two distinctly different college coaches, that simply isn't the way to play the game.

"My teammates were telling me about the record. But I didn't want to force shots just get some record," he said strongly. "[Delaware State] was playing some sort of different defense on me and that was leaving other guys open for jump shots, so that was fine with me."

The Hornets, apparently deciding that 22 points were enough, chased Ruoff with a variety of defenders in the second half and kept him from getting the ball. That resulted in just three second half three-point attempts, of which he made one. Although he finished one make short of tying the record-holding trio, he might have earned more respect for not chasing shots that he would have if he had made a couple more. That's the sort of thing that helps build team chemistry, and Ruoff, although he probably wasn't thinking along those lines, certainly did just that.

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For those worried that the Hornets found a way to shut down Ruoff, fear not. Head coach Bob Huggins noted that in a game such as this, West Virginia wasn't going to show much.

"They chased him around and tired to keep him from getting the ball in the second half, so he didn't get the shots he did in the first half." Huggins said. "We have some ways to counter that, and to get him open, but we didn't use any of these tonight because we didn't want anyone to see them.

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