PoG: WVU - Georgetown

West Virginia's senior forward said he laughed when Coliseum public address announcer Bill Nevin called him, "one of the greatest players to ever wear the Old Gold and Blue" during Monday's Senior Night ceremonies. In the game that followed, he showed a Morgantown crowd, for one last time, why that moniker fit.


Da'Sean Butler.

Sure, laugh off all the accolades, Da'Sean. It doesn't change the fact that you're unequivocally one of the all-time greats to ever play basketball at West Virginia University.

After struggling with his shot as of late (don't dare call it a "slump" -- Butler vehemently disagreed with that term after Saturday's win over Cincinnati), the Newark, N.J., native started to come out of that funk in his last-ever game at the Coliseum.

Butler was his old self in many respects, hitting seven of 16 attempts from the field and tying Georgetown's Greg Monroe for a game-high with 22 points.

He showed signs of vanquishing perhaps the most troubling of his recent demons, canning six of seven free throws on the night.

But while Butler, the Mountaineer program's third-leading all-time career scorer, has made a name for himself by making baskets, it's his all around ability to contribute in every facet that has made him one of the program's greatest winners.

The forward tied Kevin Jones for a team-high in rebounding, with six. He added a team-high six assists (better than 35 percent of WVU's total on the night) against only one turnover.

Butler admitted on Saturday that he had thought about doing everything possible to avoid the kind of nightmarish Senior Night performance Alex Ruoff had at the Coliseum last year.

He said then that even if his shots weren't falling against the Hoyas, he planned to hustle, fight for rebounds, play tough defense and find open teammates.

He did all of that. The fact that his jump shots once again started to fall at a respectable rate was just icing on the proverbial cake.

It wasn't as flashy a performance as his 43-point outburst against Villanova last year. It wasn't as dramatic as his buzzer-beaters to take down Cleveland State and Marquette earlier this season.

But this performance was vintage Da'Sean Butler -- a typical showing from a player Mountaineer fans will likely grow to appreciate even more in the years after he departs Morgantown.


  • Truck Bryant.

    The sophomore guard was, according to his head coach, the biggest key to West Virginia's success on Monday night.

    He didn't light up the scorebook himself. He was the fourth and final Mountaineer in double figures, with 11 points. As has increasingly become the case in recent games, he scored the bulk of those (seven) at the foul line.

    But Bob Huggins said it wasn't the scoring totals that mattered most for the Brooklyn, N.Y., native. It wasn't the defense he played, even though he grabbed two steals and played aggressively enough on the ball to force several of Georgetown's 20 turnovers.

    Truck Bryant
    It was the way he ran Huggins' offense to near-perfection, particularly in the first half. Time and time again, players had open looks from a variety of spots on the court.

    On the occasions when Bryant got the ball in transition, he made the proper decisions -- occasionally dumping the ball to a trailing teammate, occasionally taking it to the rim himself. Only twice did he become overly aggressive in how he attacked the basket.

    For all the frustration Bryant has caused Huggins at times, it's easy to forget that the point guard is still just a sophomore. If he could put together a few more games like Monday's, it would go a long way towards helping his team win in March.

  • Denying Georgetown the back-cut.

    Even those with the most limited knowledge of the Hoyas' Princeton-style offense know that one key to its success is forcing defenders to over-extend, then making hard cuts to the goal for easy lay-ins.

    Not even once did the visitors get one of those backdoor cuts against WVU.

    Perhaps that was partially due to the absence of Georgetown's leading scorer, Austin Freeman, who was sitting back in D.C. with a case of the flu.

    But regardless, the Mountaineers did a solid all-around job of attacking their defensive responsibilities with discipline. The only offense the Hoyas generated, as a result, was a high-low game with star center Greg Monroe and a kick-out from the interior to guard Chris Wright.

    Those two players brought plenty of offense (scoring 22 and 21 points, respectively). But the way WVU clamped down on all of the other things Georgetown likes to do made sure none of its other players reached double figures.

    The Mountaineers forced 20 turnovers -- 12 in the first half alone. They limited the Hoyas to only 19 attempts from the field in the first half -- despite the fact that the visitors were actually outrebounding West Virginia 15-12 at the intermission.

    Georgetown may have found success with Monroe, but it simply wasn't able to play its style of basketball for much of the game. As a result, WVU had a 24-4 edge in points off turnovers -- scoring the kinds of easy baskets Huggins noted is a rarity for his team.

    That's ultimately the reason why WVU was able to win with such relative ease.

  • Bigger bench contributions.

    Huggins insists he has no "substitution pattern" he follows. That showed on Monday, when Danny Jennings was the first Mountaineer to come off the bench.

    Indeed, at a time when many coaches are paring down the number of minutes their reserves get (trying to see what the best players on their teams can do to win down the stretch) Huggins seems to be giving his back-ups more chances to contribute.

    It was so with Jennings and Deniz Kilicli, who Huggins said he wanted to play more, but simply couldn't when Hoyas coach John Thompson III when to a smaller, guard-oriented lineup that the WVU big men couldn't defend.

    It was also the case with guard Casey Mitchell, who again showed signs of perhaps turning the corner by scoring eight points on 3-of-5 shooting in only 13 minutes.

    Cam Thoroughman got six minutes after his solid showing against Cincinnati. John Flowers played some solid minutes off the bench, contributing on both ends of the floor.

    Huggins knows his team will need contributions from more than just Butler, Devin Ebanks and other starters to win. Invariably, key players get in foul trouble (or just struggle) and others must be capable of getting the job done.

    While there's a big difference in a regular season home game and an NCAA Tournament contest, Huggins at least has to be heartened to see his bench compete as well as it has while the season winds down.

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