Emmitt Matthews’s first career double-double led the way for West Virginia as the Mountaineers earned a convincing win over Austin Peay, 84-53.
Matthews heated up in the first half with 11 points, and didn’t cool down until the final buzzer. He scored from all over the floor, making 2 of his 3 attempts from deep, and adding 10 points from the paint to total 16.
After keeping it close for the first couple of minutes, the Mountaineers went on a 9-0 run to push ahead of the Governors. They would only build on their lead into halftime, taking a 38-21 lead to the locker room.
Sean McNeil provided a bit of a spark off the bench, adding 7 points in the half, and contributing to the Mountaineers’ 52-percent shooting clip. He finished with 9.
WVU started the second half with a pair of three-pointers from Jordan McCabe and Matthews, starting another lead-extending half for WVU. They would dominate the second period of play, with the lead getting as high as 35 points late in the game.
West Virginia also took control of the boards, grabbing 50 rebounds to Austin Peay’s 28. Their effort was led by Matthews and Oscar Tshiebwe, who both grabbed 10.
Derek Culver played limited minutes and gave a smaller contribution to this contest, adding 4 points and 5 rebounds.
Much of the Mountaineer offense came from the smaller guys, namely Matthews. When the offense is moving, which it was on Thursday night, Bob Huggins says they really get going.
“Guys like him are better with much movement, much better,” he said. “He can use his length and athleticism. He’s not the thickest, strongest guy. Guys like that need space, they need to be able to move. I thought it helped him a lot.”
Gabe Osabuohien also gave an offensive spark as a facilitator, dishing a team-high 5 assists, as well as 4 points and 3 rebounds.
Turnovers were still an issue for West Virginia. After giving 22 up against St. John’s, they didn’t improve much with a mark of 16 turnovers.
“At times, our ball security is not what it needs to be,” Huggins said. “Until we get better at that, we are going to struggle like we did early in the game.”
West Virginia has one more home game on Saturday against Nicholls before hitting the road to face Youngstown State next weekend.