Mountaineers Swarm Western Carolina

  • By John Antonik
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  • December 07, 2016 09:07 PM
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Western Carolina, without starting point guard Devin Peterson, was swarmed by 15th-ranked West Virginia here in Charleston tonight, the Mountaineers cruising to a 90-37 victory.
Esa Ahmad led four double-figure scorers with 14 points. Jevon Carter contributed 13, Elijah Macon had a season-high 11 and Teyvon Myers scored 10 for the Mountaineers, now 7-1.
Eight games into the season, West Virginia has yet to have a player score 20 points in a game - a demonstration of the depth and unselfishness of this year's team.
"There are going to be times when Jevon, Dax or Esa gets 20," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "But I think we're harder to guard when you put more guys out there that can score."
A crowd of 8,384 watched West Virginia score the first seven points and limit the Catamounts to only two field goals during the game's first 10 minutes to build a 25-point lead.
The margin swelled to 28, then 31, and finally 34 at halftime on two 3s by Teyvon Myers and another 3 by Daxter Miles Jr. ahead of the horn.
Eleven different players got into the game and the Mountaineers made half their 3-point field goal attempts (7 of 14) in the first half. Thirteen different players scored tonight.
The West Virginia reserves played a good portion of the second half.
"I think the biggest thing that came out of the second half is we played a lot of guys a lot of minutes," said Huggins. "You get a guy like Magic (Maciej Bender). He plays nine minutes and we needed to play him some minutes. Sags (Sagaba Knonate) gets 13. We have six freshmen so if we're planning on playing those guys then we need to try and get them ready and that's the only way we can get them ready.
"It's just hard when you have five of them out there because you can't run anything," added Huggins.
Western Carolina, which falls to 3-6, shot just 26 percent from the field, turned the ball over 34 times and didn’t have a player score more than 6 points tonight.
"It's hard for them just because we don't let people run offense," said Huggins. "We make people play. (Western Carolina coach) Larry Hunter is a good coach and he runs really good sets, we just let people get into it. I think everybody gets to the point where they see other people turn it and you want to take care of the ball. The best thing to do is throw it backwards and it's hard to run offense when you're constantly throwing the ball backwards."
Tonight’s game is the only appearance for West Virginia in the Capital City this season.
The Mountaineers return to the WVU Coliseum on Saturday to face VMI in a 2 p.m. game that will be televised locally by ROOT SPORTS.
Game Notes:
* West Virginia coach Bob Huggins is two victories shy of 800 for his career, joining just eight other Division-I coaches to do so.
* Huggins spent most of the game observing the action from his stool in front of the bench. But he did get up once to argue with the baseline official about an offensive foul he called on Jevon Carter with 17:49 to go.
Then it was right back onto the stool.
* Western Carolina exceeded its turnover average of 16 per game in the first half with 19. At one point midway through the second half, the Catamounts’ shooting percentage was down to 21 and their turnovers were up to 32.
* Senior guard James Long from Charleston got a rousing ovation when he entered the game with 12:19 left in the second half.
* Some of the younger players, including freshman forward Sagaba Konate, got quality minutes in the second half. Konate brought the crowd to its feet with one thunderous dunk and a couple of nice blocks.
At one point late in the game, the five players out on the floor for West Virginia were four freshmen and one senior: Maciej Bender, Logan Routt, Chase Harler, Beetle Bolden and Long.
There were a couple of nice plays by the younger guys, one a pretty entry pass by Routt from the wing down to Bender on the baseline for an easy basket.
* Credit Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter. In games like this one coaches usually spend it sitting on the bench taking their medicine but he at least stood for good portion of the second half with his hands in his pockets.
For those of you older than 40, you may recall Hunter’s Ohio U. teams in the early-1990s were troublesome for the Mountaineers, winning four times against West Virginia.
By the way, Hunter coached one of the better players these eyes have seen play in the WVU Coliseum in forward Gary Trent, who dropped 41 on the Mountaineers on December 18, 1993.
* The Mountaineers are now 66-20 in the Charleston Civic Center and 74-22 all-time in games played in Charleston.