The Mountaineers opened up the Triple Crown Cancun Classic in style on Thursday evening, winning by a final score of 101-68.
From start to finish, it was all Mountaineers. WVU started the game on a 13-0 run before Georgia Southern could get on the board. The lead continued to grow from this point on as the Mountaineers stretched it all the way to a 29-point lead, 55-26, heading into halftime.
Juwan Staten led WVU in scoring in the first half, scoring 14 points. The Mountaineers shot the ball well in the first half, shooting 57 percent (21-37) from the field and 40 percent (6-15) from behind the ark. For Georgia Southern, it was the complete opposite. The Eagles shot just 27 percent (10-37) from the field in the first half. Georgia Southern was led by Tre Bussey with 10 points in the first half.
After the break, the Mountaineers kept the same intensity. At one point in the second half, the lead grew all the way up to 41 points at 81-40. WVU would cruise to an easy victory over Georgia Southern, winning 101-68. Despite winning by 33 points, both Eron Harris and Coach Bob Huggins were upset with the effort in the second half.
"Our effort in the second half wasn't even close to what it was in the first half," said Harris. "We have to play better defense, especially when the opponents start getting more competitive."
The Eagles came in averaging 85 points a game, but that average will drop significantly after the Mountaineers played well on defense. WVU surrendered just 68 points, a season best performance. Coach Huggins was not pleased with his team's defense in the second half.
"You can't let them shoot over 50 percent in the second half," said Huggins. "We have to defend better."
On the night, five Mountaineers finished with double digits in the scoring department. Juwan Staten led the way for the Mountaineers, finishing with 20 points. Three of those points came via the three ball which was Staten's first one since 2011. After the game, he was happy to finally end the streak.
"It feels good," said Staten. "People ask me about that every single day, but now it's over. I know I can make them."
Terry Henderson had his best game of the season, scoring 16 points. Eron Harris did not have his best night shooting the ball, but still managed to finish in double figures with 15. Devin Williams also added 16 points and Gary Browne had 11. The unselfish play on offensive stood out on Thursday night, and Coach Bob Huggins says the team has better chemistry.
"These guys are so unselfish," said Huggins. "They are willing to pass the ball which is something we didn't have last season."
WVU rebounded the ball better on Thursday evening, finishing the game with 46 rebounds. Devin Williams led the way by grabbing seven boards. Even with 46 rebounds, Coach Huggins would like to see his team do better on the glass.
"We need to rebound better," said Huggins. "We did a better job tonight, but we still have to improve."
For the game, the Mountaineers shot 56 percent (40-71) from the field.
Georgia Southern was led by Tre Bussey with 21 points. Jelanie Hewitt added 15 of his own for the Eagles.
The Mountaineers return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host Presbyterian for the second round of the Triple Crown Cancun Classic.