PoG: West Virginia - USF

Devin Ebanks appeared headed for a repeat of his disappointing game against Notre Dame, but he regrouped to record a double double in West Virginia's 69-50 win over USF.

Devin Ebanks was shut out for the first 19 minutes and 32 seconds of the game, and the effect of some missed shots that the talented sophomore normally makes was evident on other parts of his game. Just three minutes in, Ebanks had compounded his offensive woes with a couple of defensive errors, leading to another quick trip to the bench. Unlike last Saturday, however, Ebanks shook off the bad start, and by the end of the contest had played well enough to take our player of the game honors.

Ebanks finally broke through in the scoring column with 28 seconds to go in the opening half with a pair of free throws, and that started him on a streak that put West Virginia in control of the game. Ebanks scored three consecutive field goals and had eight of the Mountaineers' first ten points out of the gate in the second half. That burst put West Virginia up by ten points, and firmly in control of the contest.

Ebanks finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but more importantly, showed the smooth play that has been missing in recent contest.


NET BURNERS

  • Joe Mazzulla didn't have a big stat line, but he could well have been picked as the player of the game as well. It was his insertion in the lineup at the 12:30 mark of the first half that coincided with WVU's rally from an early eleven-point deficit. Mazzulla attacked the basket more aggressively and helped deliver some pace to the Mountaineer offense, and also played good defense on USF gunner Dominique Jones. After allowing 19 points to Jones int he first half, WVU (mostly Mazzulla) held him to nine in the second half, with all of those coming after the game was decided.

    "Joe kept the ball from Jones, and he slowed him down," head coach Bob Huggins said afterward. "He took him out of the offense, and they got stagnant when he didn't have the ball."

    Mazzulla finished with four points, four rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes of action, and it won't be a surpise to see him playing more minutes if his injured shoulder permits. He's clearly the catalyst of West Virginia's team, and it doesn't seem as if WVU begins playing hard until he hits the floor.

  • Along with Mazzulla, Dalton Pepper and Cam Thoroughman were integral in West Virginia's first half rally. Pepper scored four points and Thoroughman had an assist and a block, but, like Mazzulla's, their contributions were as much intangible as visible in the stat book. Pepper again played cooly and calmly in running the offense, and Thoroughman helped clear space in the lane and put a body on USF's potential rebounders.

  • West Virginia's defense helped turn the game around, as the Mountaineers held USF to just 32.7% from the field. The Bulls were a frigid 1-17 from three-point range, and couldn't put togehter any sort of run to challenge WVU in the second half. USF made just five field goals while scoring just 20 points in the final 20 minutes.

    Bull star Dominique Jones accounted for 28 of USF's 50 points, as was the only player in double figures. Other than Jones, USF was 8-32 from the field.


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