By Ryan Decker, Originally published for West Virginia Illustrated
MORGANTOWN – When you have the size advantage you might as well use it, right?
Given his team’s performance Monday night, No. 19 West Virginia (2-0) head coach Bob Huggins’ answer to that hypothetical question would be a large yes.
Led by Nathan Adrian’s 15-point double-double performance, the Mountaineer big men controlled much of the game, combining to score 68 of WVU’s total 107 points in West Virginia’s 107-66 rout of Mississippi Valley State.
“Four halves, we’ve played one so far. So that’s an improvement,” Huggins, who registered career win No. 793, said. “We just haven’t been able to play two halves yet.”
West Virginia, playing with the clear size advantage, made it a point to work the ball inside early on.
Twelve of the team’s first 14 points came from inside the painted area, including an acrobatic layup by Tarik Phillip that lead to an early timeout taken by MVSU head coach Andre Payne.
WVU continued to score at a fierce pace, with the scoring being fueled by Delta Devil turnovers. Seven turnovers in the first four minutes of action led to 12 points.
The Mountaineers also found luck from long range as well.
A 3-pointer by James Bolden followed by another three ball by Teyvon Myers on the next possession extended the Mountaineer lead to 27-9.
Sagaba Konate finished off two of the loudest plays of the first half, both plays ending with the 6’8” freshman slamming the ball through the basket, first a two-handed dunk in transition and then a one-handed power dunk from right under the basket with multiple defenders around him.
The latter gave West Virginia a 19-point advantage midway through the opening half.
It was another big man though, that was the story of the first half.
Adrian tallied 12 of his total 15 points in the first half, six of those points coming from behind the arch. He also grabbed eight rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Adrian collected six more rebounds in the second half to earn his first career double-double.
“We lost Jon (Holton) and Devin (Williams) last year, so somebody’s got to get rebounds that are there for someone to get,” Adrian said, talking about his rebound performance. “Someone’s got to go get them.”
WVU took a 64-28 lead into the locker room at halftime after a dominant first half, during which the Mountaineers out-rebounded by Delta Devils by 10, and made more shots from the floor (24) than MVSU attempted (23).
West Virginia also forced 18 turnovers in the opening period.
The WVU defense forced a total of 26 turnovers for the game.
The last time WVU scored 64 points in a half was in 1997 against Bowling Green in the NIT.
Jevon Carter’s 3-pointer as the shot clock expired took West Virginia’s lead to 76-32, capping off a 12-4 scoring run to begin the second half.
The veteran Carter ended the game with 10 points.
Three other Mountaineers also scored 10 or more points Monday night.
Redshirt-freshman Lamont West tallied his first double-digit scoring night, finishing with 12 points. Myers’ late burst in the second half gave him 12 points as well, and Esa Ahmad finished with 10.
West Virginia continued to hold a 40-point advantage through much of the second half as Huggins used the large lead to continue to mix and match lineups on the floor.
Huggins, who wasn’t pleased with the effort he saw, especially in the second half, said he wants to see more out of the guys coming off the bench.
“If I’m sitting on the bench like a lot of those guys are and I got a chance to play, by God I’d try to make the best of it,” he said. “I couldn’t set on the bench; it drove me absolutely insane. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t go in and just compete your tail off.”
WVU plays at home against on Sunday Nov. 20 against the University of New Hampshire at 1p.m.