No. 6 West Virginia 69, Coppin St. 43
Kevin Jones is giving No. 6 West Virginia some consistency in a season filled with shooting struggles.
Jones led the Mountaineers in scoring for the second straight game Saturday night, setting career highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds in West Virginia's 69-43 win over Coppin State.
West Virginia (7-0) overcame the absence of two starters to hold a second straight opponent to under 50 points. Despite a poor shooting night from all over the court, West Virginia's lead never fell below double digits after halftime and the Mountaineers won their 28th straight home game against a non-conference foe.
West Virginia shot 40 percent (23 of 58) from the floor, made 4 of 26 3-point tries and 19 of 34 free throws, stoking coach Bob Huggins' season-long frustrations about his inconsistent offense. The Mountaineers have been held under 70 points three times and Saturday's performance followed a 36-percent shooting effort against Duquesne.
``When they're not going in like tonight, you've got to figure out another way to score,'' Huggins said. ``I don't think we took bad shots, they just weren't going in. Sometimes that happens.''
Jones is the only West Virginia player to score in double figures every game this season.
``We're not finding the open spots as much as we did last year,'' Jones said. ``We have a lot of new guys this year who are still trying to figure out the system. ... We just have to find weaknesses in team defenses. If we keep making the extra passes, we'll be fine.''
The Mountaineers withstood Coppin State's slowdown tactics and dominated the offensive glass to forge ahead midway through the first half. Huggins was pleased with his team's patience on defense as Coppin State milked the clock.
``Some people, when that happens, try to make some ill-advised decisions going after the ball and I think we stayed pretty solid,'' Huggins said.
Da'Sean Butler added 16 points and Darryl Bryant scored 11 for the Mountaineers, who outrebounded Coppin State 40-26 and had 24 on the offensive end.
Huggins rested forward Devin Ebanks, who has a sore left hand that he injured during a West Coast trip last month. Ebanks missed his fourth game of the season, including the first three due to undisclosed personal reasons.
Guard Casey Mitchell, in a three-game shooting slump, also stayed on the sidelines to rest a sore right knee that was surgically repaired before the season. Last year's junior college player of the year had started the first five games, then shot 1 of 7 on Wednesday in a 68-39 win over Duquesne.
Trailing by 14 at halftime, Coppin State used a 6-0 run to pull within 41-29 with 15:53 remaining, but West Virginia's full-court press forced five turnovers over the next two minutes and the Eagles got no closer on the scoreboard.
``They put the pressure on us and our kids didn't react to the pressure as well as I'd like them to have,'' said Coppin State coach Ron ``Fang'' Mitchell. ``We threw the ball away, and when you throw the ball away and miss baskets, you lose.''
Vince Goldsberry scored 12 points and Lenny Young added 11 for Coppin State (5-4), which fell to 0-22 against Big East teams. The Eagles committed 20 turnovers.
The lead went back and forth until Young and Mitchell each were called for technical fouls after Young fouled West Virginia's Joe Mazzulla midway through the first half. Butler made the four ensuing free throws, part of a 12-0 run that put West Virginia ahead 23-13 with six minutes left until halftime.
West Virginia has yet to face a team with a losing record this season, although three of Coppin State's five wins came against teams outside of Division I.
A tougher part of the schedule is looming. The Mountaineers have had two long layoffs already this season and play just once over the next 11 days, on Dec. 19 at Cleveland State.
After that West Virginia hosts No. 25 Mississippi on Dec. 23, finishes the month in Big East play at unbeaten Seton Hall and at home against Marquette, then plays at No. 5 Purdue on New Year's Day.