Strong Second Half Leads WVU Past American

Strong Second Half Leads WVU Past American

Germany didn’t prove too kind for West Virginia’s men’s basketball team, which fell in the season opener to Texas A&M, 88-65, on Ramstein Air Base last Friday.

But the friendly confines of the WVU Coliseum helped the Mountaineers get back on the winning side, as Bob Huggins’ club used a strong second half to push past American, 98-64, in West Virginia’s home opener for the 2017-18 season.

After a slow start by both clubs to start the game, American led 21-20 and the contest was still tied at 24-24 with 6:31 left in the opening half. But then West Virginia finally heated up a bit, closing the period on a 20-9 run that gave the home team a 44-33 lead at halftime.

The Mountaineers may have scored 44 points in the first 20 minutes, but they struggled in their half court offense. They hit only 12-of-32 field goal attempts (38 percent) in the first half and just 2-of-9 from three-point range (22 percent). They got significant point production from the foul line, though, where they were 18-of-25 (72 percent). Lamont West was one of three Mountaineers in double figures at halftime, though he didn’t hit a single shot from the field, as all of his points came on a 10-of-13 effort from the foul line. WVU senior Jevon Carter topped all scorers at the midway point with 11 points, while freshman Teddy Allen checked in with 10 The Eagles were led in the first half by Larry Motuzis, who had 10 points. The Eagles did turn the ball over 10 times in the opening period compared to just three for WVU. West Virginia also won the battle on the boards in the first half, 22-16.

Seven quick points by Beetle Bolden in a 21-second span early in the second half sparked a Mountaineer surge. WVU never looked back, opening a lead as large as 35 (93-58) in the second half. With the win West Virginia even its record at 1-1. American, which lost its season opener at Kansas State, 83-45, on Friday, fell to 0-2.

Carter led the Mountaineers’ effort with 20 points to go along with a stat line that also included seven rebounds, seven assists and nine steals. Carter’s thefts are the second most ever in a single game by a WVU player. Only Drew Schifino (11 against Arkansas-Monticello in 2001) has ever had more. Three Mountaineers previously had nine – Mike Boyd in 1990, Darryl Prue in 1986 and Red Holmes in 1952.

Daxter Miles (20 points), Bolden (16), Allen (14) and West (12) also reached double figures in the scoring column for West Virginia. Matuzis (15) and Sa’eed Nelson (17) led the Eagles.

The Mountaineer shooting was much better in the second half than the first, as they hit 64.5 percent from the field (20-of-31) in the closing 20 minutes

Wednesday’s contest starts a busy 12-day stretch for West Virginia, which will play six games in that span. Next up for the Mountaineers is a Saturday, Nov. 20 clash against Morgan State. That basketball contest is part of a gridiron-hardwood doubleheader, as WVU’s football team entertains Texas that afternoon in a game that kicks off at noon. The basketball contest gets underway at the Coliseum at 7:30. WVU also hosts Long Beach State on Monday, Nov. 22 at 7:00 p.m., and then heads to Orlando where it will play three games over the Thanksgiving holiday as part of the Advocare Invitational. It faces Marist at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, then either Nebraska or UCF on Friday. After taking Saturday off, the tournament concludes on Sunday.