No. 25 West Virginia 82, DePaul 71

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was pleased to see his team get

going on offense after a six-game lull.

The Mountaineers will need to do much more of the same during

the home stretch of a rugged Big East schedule if they want a high

seed in the conference tournament.

John Flowers led West Virginia’s balanced offense with 15 points

and the 25th-ranked Mountaineers never trailed in beating DePaul

82-71 on Saturday.

After averaging 58 points in its previous six games, West

Virginia surpassed that figure midway through the second half. It

marked the first time since Jan. 13 that the Mountaineers scored

more than 80 points.

But after its highest first-half output of the season, West

Virginia (16-8, 7-5 Big East) ran into lulls after halftime and

didn’t put away DePaul (6-18, 0-12) until the final minutes.

Huggins blamed that on some of his players not helping complete

plays on the offensive end.

”We don’t do a very good job of getting easy baskets,” he

said. ”We’re just so undersized.

”When you’ve got them on the run and you’ve got them chasing

you, that’s when you really want to spread them and back-cut them.

You’re going to score on back cuts and slips and those kind of

things. When you just stand in the post, you can’t relieve pressure

and we just didn’t do a very good job of that at the end.”

Deniz Kilicli and Joe Mazzulla added 12 points apiece and Casey

Mitchell and Truck Bryant both scored 11 for West Virginia, which

needed a win against the league’s worst team to bolster its

confidence following consecutive losses to No. 9 Villanova and No.

4 Pittsburgh.

Another loss would have sent West Virginia tumbling to 11th

place in the conference. Instead, the Mountaineers improved to

sixth, just ahead of No. 12 Syracuse.

”This is one we had to have,” Huggins said. ”I thought we

controlled the tempo pretty well and did a pretty good job against

their pressure.”

Five of the Mountaineers’ six remaining regular-season games are

against ranked teams, including Monday at Syracuse.

The last time DePaul and West Virginia met on Jan. 4, the

Mountaineers blew a 14-point lead in the second half and held on

for a 67-65 road win behind Mitchell’s 18 points.

DePaul had no such luck cutting into a double-digit deficit this

time.

Brandon Young led DePaul with 14 points, while Jimmy Drew added

13 and Krys Faber and Tony Freeland both had 11.

The Blue Demons have lost 25 consecutive Big East games and 29

straight on the road.

”I’m sure it grinds on them,” coach Oliver Purnell said.

”We’ve been playing better. We’re just not playing good enough to

win or to close out games. They’ve done an outstanding job in the

face of adversity, but it’s tough to take for anyone.”

Following its strong first half, West Virginia needed some time

to extend a 13-point halftime lead. The Mountaineers made just four

field goals over the first 10 minutes of the second half, and

Michael Bizoukas made a layup to cut DePaul’s deficit to 59-48.

Jeremiah Kelly’s 3-pointer with 2:48 left brought the Blue

Demons within 74-67, but DePaul scored just four points the rest of

the game.

West Virginia went 6 of 6 from the free throw line after that

and Flowers’ dunk with 49 seconds left sealed it.

The Mountaineers outscored DePaul 20-13 from the line and shot

53 percent (28 of 53) from the field while DePaul shot 51 percent

(25 of 49), including 63 percent after halftime.

West Virginia has allowed 71 points in back-to-back games after

opponents averaged 55 points in the five games before that.

”We’ve got to start guarding again,” Huggins said. ”We’re not

guarding very well.”

West Virginia easily handled DePaul’s full-court press and often

was able to get quick open looks on the offensive end.

Flowers took an alley-oop pass from Mitchell and laid it in for

a 38-28 lead with 5:50 left in the first half. West Virginia

compiled 23 assists.

”When we share the ball, good things happen,” Flowers said.

”We made good passes and good cuts and that’s when we’re good in

this offense.”

West Virginia led by as many as 16 points late in the first half

and 47-34 at halftime.