MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Esa Ahmad
scored 17 points in 24 minutes of action to power 11th
-ranked West Virginia to an 84-57 victory over Radford Tuesday night at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers’ 27-point victory was their seventh by a margin of at least 25 points at the Coliseum this year. But this one was not like the others, judging from the amount of time it took coach Bob Huggins to come out of the locker room to do his postgame radio show.
West Virginia (10-1) used a 23-0 run to build a 32 point first-half lead, the Highlanders nearly having more turnovers than points scored (22 points to 21 turnovers) at the break.
WVU shot 58.8 percent from the floor, including 60 percent from 3 in the first half, but those numbers fell off considerably in the second half as Huggins continued to use different players.
“The guys that we started, I thought they went out and were walking around so I took them out and put some other guys in and they weren’t a whole lot better,” said Huggins. “The game has a way of getting even with you when you approach it the wrong way. We went on that big run and we thought the game was over and kind of quit playing.”
Radford (4-7) actually outscored West Virginia in the second half, 35-31, grabbed two more rebounds than the much taller Mountaineers, led by Sterling Christy’s game-high 10 boards, and overall the Highlanders had a 40-37 edge on the glass for the game.
“I don’t know if it was effort or a lack of focus,” said Huggins. “We boxed out and stood and then went and got it. We made an effort to block out sometimes.”
West Virginia’s big advantages were in points in the paint (46-8) and points off of turnovers (41-10). Bench scoring, which has been a staple all season for the Mountaineers, was just plus-eight tonight (33-25).
Overall, West Virginia shot 49.2 percent from the floor but just 48.4 percent from the free throw line.
“When you miss free throws, when you fumble the ball - which we fumbled countless balls, when you miss layups you’re not ready to play,” explained Huggins. “My thing to them all week from the other game to this game to Friday is you spend 12 months a year preparing for this, why would you not embrace it? Friday nobody else will remember this, but I will.”
Radford was worse, hitting just 42.1 percent of its free throw tries.
Justin Cousin scored 12 and Caleb Tanner scored 10 for Radford, which is coached by Mike Jones, who spent one year on John Beilein’s WVU coaching staff in 2003.
An announced crowd of 8,311 watched tonight’s game.
West Virginia returns to action on Friday for a rare 4 p.m. matinee game against Northern Kentucky that will be televised locally on ROOT SPORTS.
Then, a week from Friday, the Mountaineers go on the road to open Big 12 play at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys play Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Thursday night before facing WVU in their conference opener.