The West Virginia Mountaineers force 23 turnovers playing tough defense, defeating the Marist Red Foxes 87-44 on Thanksgiving Day.
The opening game of the Old Spice Classic wasn't much of a contest as the Mountaineers (1-1) were able to control the game from start to finish.
Several players were involved in this game for the Mountaineers. First years with the team may have stolen the show.
Despite the score, it wasn't as pretty as it seemed in the first opening minutes. After five minutes, the Mountaineers trailed the Red Foxes by a point, shooting just 25% from the field. They then picked up the pace.
A 19-3 run gave WVU a comfortable lead. It was the first of two identical scoring streaks in the first half. After 20 minutes, the Mountaineers were leading 51-19. That's one more point scored in a half than in the entire first game of the season.
The points were coming from a variety of players, and fashions. Near the end of the first half, West Virginia ignited the crowd with the play of the season thus far.
Jabarie Hinds knocked the ball loose from a Marist player, and quickly found Aaron Brown. Brown started to run the court and gave it back to Hinds. Eron Harris was streaking for the hoop when the two connected for a fast break alley-oop that put players and coaches on their feet.
Keaton Miles was also contributing on the defensive end, with a powerful block in the first half that sent the ball soaring into the crowd.
Marist struggled offensively throughout the afternoon. The man-defense from WVU forced 23 turnovers. It was a difference making statistic as Marist was only able to force WVU into seven turnovers.
Shooting in this contest was also much improved from the Gonzaga game just ten days ago. The team in blue and gold shot 36-for-68, or 52.9% from the field. Against Gonzaga, the Mountaineers just 27% from the floor.
Eron Harris came off the bench to score 15 points for the Mountaineers, a game high. The freshman had 7-for-8 shooting in just 14 minutes of play.
Another freshman, Terry Henderson, added 14 points of his own. He knocked down two early three-pointers to give WVU a lead. He also managed to pull down six rebounds.
The man who led the team in scoring after game one, Aaric Murray, didn't see any action until the second half of the game. He still scored 10 points and brought down five rebounds.
This is Bob Huggins' 711 victory of his coaching career, and his 121 victory at West Virginia.
Both teams will play a game tomorrow. West Virginia advances to the semifinals while Marist will play a consolation game. The Mountaineers will play at 12:30.