West Virginia used a 7-0 run late in the game to upset sixth-ranked Virginia, 66-57, at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The win snapped Virginia’s 24-game home winning streak, sixth-longest home winning streak in the country.
“We can beat anybody in the country but we can’t turn it over,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, now three wins shy of 800 for his career. “If we can keep turnovers under 10 we have a chance and today we took so much better care of the ball.”
WVU did, turning the ball over just eight times to Virginia’s 14.
It was West Virginia’s first victory over a ranked non-conference opponent since beating No. 8 Maryland, 69-59, in a 2015 NCAA tournament game played in Columbus, Ohio, and the first regular-season road victory against a ranked team since beating 15th-ranked Ohio State, 76-48, in Columbus on December 27, 2008.
It was also the first true non-conference road win over a top 10-ranked team since the Mountaineers defeated fifth-ranked Kentucky, 77-70, on December 20, 1957 - 59 years ago.
This afternoon, WVU used the 3-ball to beat Virginia - a big one coming from Esa Ahmad
with 1:30 remaining to give West Virginia a 58-55 lead. Prior to that, freshman forward Lamont West
hit two big 3s, the second coming with 4:36 left to give the Mountaineers a 52-49 lead.
Following Ahmad’s 3 from the corner, Tarik Phillip
made a driving layup to put West Virginia ahead by five, 60-55.
then blocked London Perrantes’ 3-point try at the other end, Nathan Adrian
grabbed the rebound and he was fouled by Devon Hall with 27 seconds left and Adrian made both free throws. On the next trip down the floor, Perrantes couldn’t get another 3 to go down, Ahmad grabbed the rebound, was fouled by Hall, and hit two more free throws to make it a three-possession game with 15 seconds left.
“We came out and challenged JC that (Perrantes) was the guy because he makes all the big shots,” said Huggins. “He’ll go a whole game and take two shots and when it comes down to winning games he takes all the big shots.”
Virginia (7-1) had an 11-point lead midway through the first half, 17-6, before West Virginia began finding some openings in Virginia’s Pack Line defense.
“You’ve got to somehow get them spread first and when you play Pack Line the way they play Pack Line it’s hard to get them spread,” explained Huggins.
A traditional three-point play from Carter reduced Virginia’s lead to six, and then three straight baskets from Brandon Watkins
, Daxter Miles Jr.
and Ahmad pulled WVU to within one, 23-22.
A flagrant foul 2 called on Miles, causing him to be ejected from the game with 2:42 left in the first half, momentarily slowed the Mountaineers’ momentum, but Teyvon Myers
came in and responded with a short jumper to give WVU its first lead of the game, 24-23, with 27 seconds left in the half.
“He went to block out and swung his arm and hit him in the head. It was a block out but the rules are the rules,” said Huggins of the explantion he received from game officials regarding Miles’ ejection.
Jack Salt’s driving layup with three seconds left gave the Cavaliers a 25-24 lead at the break.
Carter scored 11 and Adrian added 10 to lead the Mountaineers, now 6-1.
Ahmad contributed 9 points, seven rebounds and a steal while West came off the bench to score 8 points on three of four shooting.
“Sometimes Lamont doesn’t know where he is,” said Huggins. “There are advantages to that. For a while I wasn’t sure what they were but he makes shots. He makes shots all the time.
“We need him to make shots because Nate is struggling a little bit,” added Huggins. “We ran some stuff for Nate and he did make two big drives to the basket - and that’s what good players do.”
West Virginia shot 45.1 percent from the floor and made 16 of 19 from the free throw line in today’s victory. Virginia came into today's game ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring defense giving up an average of just 44.1 points per game.
“We probably had the right guys at the line, which helps,” said Huggins. “We shortened our rotations. It’s hard to run offense with those freshmen. Then I thought we got stagnant offensively. They were over-helping and I thought maybe we could get Lamont some open shots and he made them.”
Darius Thompson led Virginia with a game-high 14 points.
“West Virginia is an obviously well-coached, very physical, tough, veteran team, and you could see that," said Virginia coach Tony Bennett. "Our guys gave effort, but I do not know if we quite matched the physicality. It was a little different for some of our new guys, and they did not play well.
"A couple of costly turnovers, they capitalized on those and then I thought they got into our paint at crucial times in the second half, whether it was off the bounce and we had an over help and they would kick it to a big three in the corner, or just tough offensive rebounds. Though they only had eight [offensive rebounds], they were keeping them alive. Then we had trouble scoring.”
West Virginia returns to action on Wednesday, December 7, to play Western Carolina at the Charleston Civic Center. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be televised locally on ROOT SPORTS.