Simply because there was no other choice, Da'Sean Butler was West Virginia's player of the game against Syracuse.
Butler scored West Virginia's first and last points of the first half, but nothing in between, as he managed just five points in the opening 20 minutes. His desperation three-pointer at the buzzer kept WVU breathing after another dismal first half performance, and he again tried to single-handedly mount a rally in the second, but even his 18 points weren't enough to mount a serious challenge.
Butler scored 10 of West Virginia's 12 points as the Mountaineers showed their only signs of life in the second half, That run cut a 20-point Orange lead to 12, but WVU could only whittle that a bit further, to nine, the rest of the way.
Butler's 23 points marked the sixth consecutive game in which he topped the 20 point mark. He finished 9-21 from the field, including 3-9 from three-point range. He had four rebounds, four assists and four steals to go with one block.
Another garbage time comeback might have had some thinking West Virginia had a chance to get back in the game, but just as was evident in the game against Louisville last Saturday, the rally was more fool's gold than the real deal. In both games, West Virgina's foes jumped out to big leads and coasted home. In both games the Mountaineers did manage to cut into the margin, but there was never any real feeling that they had a chance to get the win. At critical junctures, West Virginia failed to make the plays necessary to truly push the opposition. Against the Orange, it was two missed free throws and three empty possessions after cutting the lead to nine that sealed the deal.
WVU's transition offense could be among the worst in the country. The Mountaineers routinely give away what should be easy points on fast breaks. Against SU, West Virginia threw three bad passes that resulted in turnovers going the opposite direction, and twice failed to take advantage of a man advantage situation in the open court. WVU capped its horrid fast break night by turning a three on two situation into a fadeaway three-pointer -- not exactly the shot you look for in that situation. Overall, the Mountaineers managed to score just six points in transition, while the Orange rang up 21.
One of the few bright spots, perhaps only by comparison, was the performance of Kevin Jones off the bench. Jones gave West Virginia its only support from a substitute with six points, six rebounds and some respectable defensive play. West Virginia got just two points from the rest of its bench, and again struggled to find any sort of support for Butler in the scoring column. jones was 3-7 from the field, and added an assists and two steals in 23 minutes of action.