PoG: WVU - St. John's

There's hot. Then there's on fire. Da'Sean Butler was the latter, hitting all seven of his three- point attempts and pouring in 33 points to earn our player of the game honors in West Virginia's 79-60 win over St. John's.

Butler was West Virginia's only consistent scoring threat in the first half, scoring nine points on two threes and three free throws. That output barely kept WVU within shouting distance of the Red Storm, as the Mountaineer fell behind by 14 points before Butler's trio of free throws cut the advantage to 11 at the break. The second half, however was a different story. Apparently inspired by eight consecutive point from teammate Wellington Smith (see Netburner below), Butler lit the fire. He hit back to back threes to erase the deficit and give WVU a 46-45 lead, then drained another three moments later to push the advantage to four. WVU's super senior wasn't finished, however, Another trey put West Virginia up by seven, and he added seven consecutive points of his own down the stretch as the Mountaineers stretched out the lead to as many as 21.

Butler finished the game 9-16 from the field, including the 7-7 mark from three-point range. Butler became the eighth Mountaineer to have as many as seven threes in a game (Alex Ruoff holds the school record with nine against Radford.) The New Jersey native had six rebounds, four assists, two steals and no turnovers in 33 minutes of action before leaving to a standing ovation in the final minute.

Butler's 33 points pushed him into fourth-place on the WVU all-time scoring list with 1,822 points. He passed the original Greg Jones (1,797) who played from 1980-83. Up next on the target list is Wil Robinson, who has 1,850 points.


  • Had Butler not erupted for an avalanche of points, it would have been easy to select Joe Mazzulla as the star of the game. After sitting out the first half with an ankle sprain, Mazzulla came on to direct West Virginia's offense and help solidify the porous defense. Playing in the back of the 1-3-1, which head coach Bob Huggins deployed in the second half, Mazzulla again showed his mettle by shutting down much of the lane and keeping St. John big men from getting to the rim. Offensively, he settled WVU's herky-jerky offense and got the ball to the right people (mostly Butler) as WVU piled up 57 second half points.

    Mazzulla's stat line looked like that of a late game sub (no points, one rebound, three assists, one turnover) but his play was anything but. Beside Butler, Mazzulla's contribution was vital to WVU's comeback.

  • Wellington Smith's scoring outburst in the second half jump-started WVU's comeback and put the Mountaineers in the position to mount its second half rally. Trailing by 13, Smith hit a three, got a rebound and put up a tough inside shot for a two, then hit another three in transition for eight points in just over ninety seconds. That cut the St. John's lead to five and force the second timeout by the Red Storm over the same span. From there, Butler heated, up, but there's no doubt he took some inspiration from Smith's run.

    Wells' play over that stretch continued an excellent stretch of games. When Smith is able to contribute on the offensive end, West Virginia becomes a very difficult team to beat. If he can duplicate his ten-point, four-rebound, three-assist performance in every game down the stretch, the Mountaineers are going to continue to win.

  • In the quietest double-double you may ever see, Devin Ebanks scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds in the win. After a first half in which he scored just two points and didn't play with his usual defensive efficiency, Ebanks turned up the heat on both ends in the second ha;f. He scored four points early in the second stanza to keep WVU in the contest, and became his usual dominant board self as well. Overlooked is his play at the top of West Virginia's 1-3-1 defense, where he contests passing lanes and pushes the ball further from the basket than the Red Storm would have liked. But even as he ranged far from the hoop, he still managed to get back to the glass to rebound numerous St. John's misses.

    Playing for the second consecutive game without tape on his badly sprained thumb, Ebanks was 4-7 from the field and 4-4 from the line. In addition to his ten boards, he dished out five assists, swatted two shots and had a steal at the top of the zone.

  • BlueGoldNews Top Stories