West Virginia 84, Davidson 70
Darryl ''Truck'' Bryant wants a championship trophy as the one souvenir to bring home from Puerto Rico.
Bryant scored 22 points, Dan Jennings grabbed 11 rebounds and West Virginia beat Davidson 84-70 on Thursday in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Bryant's idea of fun in sunny Puerto Rico isn't hitting the beach, but winning it all for the 1,000 or so fans who made it feel a little like Morgantown in the spacious Coliseo de Puerto Rico.
''That's the plan,'' he said. ''It's not for us, it's for them. They spent all that money to come over here and we just want to bring the championship back to Morgantown.''
One win down, two left.
Casey Mitchell scored 12 points and three others were in double figures for the Mountaineers (2-0), who advanced to play the winner of Vanderbilt-Nebraska in the second round of the eight-team tournament that finishes Sunday.
''We should be a lot better,'' West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. ''We're not playing much freshman. The 10 guys that we played were all here a year ago.''
Brendan McKillop and De'Mon Brooks each scored 15 points for Davidson (0-2), which went 2 for 22 from 3-point range to blow its chance at the win.
The game featured a whopping 67 personal fouls, one technical and lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours.
Mitchell hit two straight 3-pointers late in the first half to give the Mountaineers a double-digit lead that they eventually stretched to 19 points.
The Wildcats, who don't play at home until Nov. 29, made some short runs to stay close until the end. Clint Mann made two free throws to make it a 10-point game, but Dalton Pepper hit a breathing-room 3 for West Virginia that made it 53-38 midway through the second half.
Hard to believe it was only two years ago that Stephen Curry hit four 3s and scored 27 points for Davidson in a win over West Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic. So much has changed since - Davidson slid back into mediocrity and West Virginia made a Final Four.
The Wildcats could have used Curry's silky touch. They missed their first 19 3-pointers - yes, 19! - until Jordan Downing hit one with 3:21 left that pulled them within 70-60. Bryant, though, answered with a 3 that pushed the lead to 75-60 and West Virginia held on from there.
Coming off a Final Four, West Virginia is out of the Top 25, but maybe not for long. Win on Friday and it sets up a potential championship showdown with No. 8 North Carolina on Sunday.
''We have enough games on TV where we can showcase our talent and people can see what we can do,'' forward Kevin Jones said. ''We're not really worried about all that.''
The tournament opener dragged on as the refs never put their whistles away. The crowd of mostly West Virginia fans started humorously chanting ''No more fouls!'' in the final minutes. West Virginia went 31 of 49 from the line, Davidson 18 of 29. Seven players fouled out - West Virginia's Deniz Kilicli amazingly did it in only 6 minutes.
''That kind of got us out of our rhythm,'' Jones said. ''It kind of took control of the game at one point, but the referees started to do a good job in the second half. It calmed down and we were able to hit some free throws and get some clutch baskets at the end.''
Davidson coach Bob McKillop wanted at least a few more whistles. Twice, he loudly complained Bryant was carrying the ball. Each time, Bryant followed with a basket.
His biggest concern was the 3-point shooting.
''We just haven't knocked them down at this point,'' McKillop said. ''Our confidence is a little bit fractured right now. We've just go to stand up and knock them down.''
Huggins and McKillop were agitated with the refs all game.
The tipping point came late in the first half when a double foul was called on each team, and a technical called against West Virginia's Cam Thoroughman. Huggins was red as he screamed nose-to-nose with a ref, who patiently let the coach make his profane point without another T.
''I was just trying to help him,'' Huggins said. ''It's part of my obligation to the game to try and help them get better.''
Huggins had little else to complain about in the first half. Mitchell's 3s made it 34-20 and the Mountaineers cruised to a 42-29 halftime lead. Davidson missed all nine 3-point attempts in the first half and was 5 for 11 from the free-throw line.
McKillop advocated a later start to the season and more practice time with teams so early season games weren't so ugly.
''We're putting a product on the court that at this point in the season is not where it should be,'' he said.