No. 6 West Virginia cruises past Duquesne 68-39

BY foxsports • December 16, 2009

West Virginia followed up another long layoff with another blowout win - and complaints from coach Bob Huggins about his erratic offense.

Kevin Jones scored 16 points and No. 6 West Virginia built a big lead early and manhandled Duquesne 68-39 on Wednesday night.

West Virginia hadn't played since an 84-66 win over Portland on Nov. 29 in the championship game of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif.

Despite the 10-day layoff and playing at home for only the second time this season, West Virginia (6-0) had little trouble beating the Dukes (6-3) for the seventh straight time. The Mountaineers jumped ahead by double digits four minutes into the game and led by as many as 34 points midway through the second half.

West Virginia shot just 36 percent (24 of 66) for the game but made up for that by outrebounding Duquesne 45-34 and scoring 29 points off 24 Dukes turnovers.

``I thought we guarded pretty good. We just didn't run the offense,'' Huggins said. ``I'm running out of patience. Honestly, I'm running out of patience with a few of the guys. They got to get with us or they can sit over there and cheer like crazy. This isn't going to continue.''

The Mountaineers have won every game by double digits, and their average margin of victory is 21 points.

West Virginia moved up this week to its highest ranking in The Associated Press poll since the Mountaineers also were sixth on Feb. 23, 1982. Their quirky early-season schedule also included a nine-day layoff. West Virginia responded after that break with a 19-point win over The Citadel.

Duquesne beat Iowa earlier this season and led Pittsburgh by 16 points before falling in double overtime, but the Dukes were unprepared for West Virginia's scorers. Wellington Smith added 11 points and Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia's leading scorer, had 10.

With leading scorer Melquan Bolding still recovering from a broken right wrist, and guard Jason Duty sitting out the game with a left ankle injury, Duquesne was held to a season low for points. The 39 points tied Duquesne's fourth worst output since World War II, and the Dukes have now failed to reach 60 points in three straight games.

``I knew it was going to be difficult to come in there and play without two of our starting guards and it certainly was,'' said Duquesne coach Ron Everhart. ``We got shut out right off the bat and we tried to respond, but we couldn't keep them off the offensive glass and they shut us off defensively.''

Damian Saunders led the Dukes with 12 points. Eric Evans was coming off a 17-point effort in a 14-point win over Savannah State on Saturday but was limited to six points against West Virginia.

Duquesne, held to 32 percent shooting, had three significant scoring droughts that allowed West Virginia to build its lead. Jones, who has scored in double digits every game this season, followed a dunk with a 3-point play during a 12-0 run that put the Mountaineers ahead 61-27 with 10:42 left in the game.

``We're not playing our best basketball,'' Jones said. ``This is nowhere near our best basketball. Our best basketball is in the future. It's close - it's coming up, though.''

His coach has a different view.

``We're getting ready to get into the heart of our schedule,'' Huggins said. ``You can't put guys in the game that just totally stop your offense. Our offense comes to a screeching halt when you put them into the game.''

Huggins didn't name names, but Casey Mitchell went just 1 of 7 from the floor in 13 minutes, his third straight poor outing.

Devin Ebanks got his first start of the season after missing the first three games for undisclosed personal reasons. He scored 14 points twice as a reserve in wins over Texas A&M and Portland. But Ebanks, his left hand heavily taped, made just 2 of 10 shots and scored only four points against Duquesne.

``Yeah, his hand is bothering him,'' Huggins said. ``He took bad shots. He had some really good looks and they didn't go down, and then he forced things.''

West Virginia jumped ahead 14-2 and five different players hit 3-pointers in the first half, putting the Mountaineers ahead by as much as 23 just before halftime.

The 42-20 halftime lead could have been even greater. Many of Duquesne's first-half baskets were easy shots in the paint against a defense that ranks 266th in Division I in field-goal percentage allowed at 45.6 percent.

West Virginia shot just 36 percent (14 of 39) from the floor in the first half but forced 15 Duquesne turnovers before halftime.

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