POG: West Virginia- Georgetown

In the first half, Da'Sean Butler rallied WVU to a halftime lead. In the second, his timely hoops blunted Georgetown rallies to help the Mountaineers defeat the 14th-ranked Hoyas.

West Virginia fell behind the homestanding Hoyas by 9-2 in the early going, then Butler, our selection for the player of the game, went to work. The New Jersey native scored nine of West Virginia's next 11 points, and when the flurry was over, West Virginia led 14-11. The Mountaineers never relinquished that lead, as Butler scored 15 points in the first half and 27 overall to help WVU record its biggest conference win of the year to date.

Butler's scoring in the second half wasn't quite as plentiful, but it was even more timely. After seeing WVU's lead cut to three early on, he hit a spinning jumper to push the lead out to eight. Gerogetown roared back to pull within two at 45-43, but Bryant again responded with another score to start another run, this one a 9-1 spurt that put the Mountaineers up by ten.

Butler was also his usual active self on the boards, corralling a team-high eight as West Virginia dominated the bigger Hoyas on the glass for most of the contest.

"Da' was a man among men," head coach Bob Huggins observed succinctly.

Whether or not Butler played to avenge last year's heartbreaking defeat to the Hoyas in which his last second shot was blocked (or goaltended) away from the hoop, wasn't important. In the end, he was the best player on the floor.


NET BURNERS

  • West Virginia's defense was a key factor in the contest. The Mountaineers mixed their usual man-to-man with the point-drop matchup zone to stifle Hoyas from the field. WVU held Georgetown to 33% (9-27) in the second half and 39% overall. And while the Hoyas did shoot well in the first half, West Virginia's defense simply didn't allow them many shots. Georgetown, averaging just 13 turnovers per game, committed 19 on the night. Many of those were forced by WVU's defense, which contested every pass and allowed only a handful of open shots.

    The aggressive defense did cause some late foul concerns, as Truck Bryant, Wellington Smith and Truck Bryant all had four fouls. The Hoyas were in the bonus at the 8:53 mark of the second half, but WVU's offensive efficiency and control of the boards didn't allow them to press that advantage to maximum effect.

  • John Flowers' rebounding off the bench deserves notice. The lanky frontliner had eight rebounds and was a force that the Hoyas simply couldn't match inside. Flowers, along with his teammates, blocked out very well and kept Georgetown in one-and-done mode for much of the evening.

    "We had some bounce, and we have to have that," Huggins said. "We have to beat people to the ball, and we did that tonight

  • Although Alex Ruoff did not shoot the ball well, his reaction to that occurrence was crucial. Despite not scoring in the first half, Ruoff didn't let that affect other aspects of his play. He piled up nine assists and played very good defense, at times even checking 6-11 center Greg Monroe on the perimeter. He did not force shots, and ran the offense well, especially late in the second half when Bryant struggled. He also had the eyepopping play of the day when he drove past a hedging Georgetown defense and threw down a one-hand dunk over another Hoys defender. That move gave WVU an 11-point lead that was never seriously threatened.

    "Alex controlled the game int he second half," Huggins noted. "I think he's starting to get a little more comfortable with the ball in his hands."

    Judging from the results, especially the nine assists, Huggins may be correct. And that would make West Virginia a bit more versatile, and able to adapt to different situations, as the Big East schedule continues.


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