The Dominion Post  
 

Mountaineers find motivation in schedule diss

Created on:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   8:24 PM

Last modified:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   8:24 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Motivating factors are funny and fickle things with college basketball players.

Former WVU standout Da’Sean Butler readily admitted to just making stuff up in his mind about how WVU opponents disrespected the Mountaineers, just to get him more motivated to play.

WVU head coach Bob Huggins said he had a player at Cincinnati do the same thing.

“He used to make stuff up just to get everybody else riled up,” Huggins said.

Which set the scene for the 68-61 victory against No. 15 Virginia, on Dec. 5.

In the days leading up to the game, WVU players and coaches read an online article that didn’t think the 18th-ranked Mountaineers (8-1) played a competitive schedule.

“We read an article that said we played a cake schedule until tonight,” Huggins said. “I know Tony (Bennett, Virginia’s head coach) doesn’t feel that way. We were going to be ready to play anyway, but I think that got us a little more ready.”

It doesn’t always take an article or a message-board post on the internet with this group of Mountaineers, who said they have had a sort of chip on their shoulder since the season-opening loss, against Texas A&M.

“I feel like we have to win every game from here on out,” said WVU point guard Jevon Carter, who finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. “I just feel like we don’t get a lot of respect since we lost that game to Texas A&M. I feel like if we would have lost this game, we would have fallen out of the rankings.”

For the record, WVU’s strength of schedule is ranked 24th in the country, according to the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).

WVU is ranked No. 11 overall in the RPI and rose 15 spots after beating the Cavaliers.

YOU, THEN ME

WVU forward Lamont West said the tempo of the game was a key focus for the Mountaineers against Virginia.

“We didn’t want to play in a 49-47 kind of game,” he said. “So, we had to try and speed the game up.”

The final seven minutes of the game began with Virginia’s Kyle Guy making his fifth 3-pointer of the second half to tie the scoreat 51.

It ended with Daxter Miles Jr. making a second crucial steal to seal the Mountaineers’ victory.

In between was a back-and-forth affair that saw Guy make plays for Virginia, while West made some critical shots for the Mountaineers.

“Every time I caught the ball, I was open,” said West, who finished with four 3-pointers and 22 points.

The sophomore from Cincinnati hit a key 3-pointer that gave WVU a 54-51 lead, with 5:57 left.

Next, West pump-faked a defender in the corner and pulled up for a 17-footer along the baseline to give WVU a 58-56 lead, with 4:17 left.

For good measure, West added a second 3-pointer coming out of a timeout that gave WVU a 61-56 advantage, with three minutes remaining.

“I wasn’t really looking at it as a shoot-off” with Guy, West said. “When he was hitting most of his 3s, I wasn’t even in the game. I was just hoping my team could pick it up and stop him.”

TICKETS AVAILABLE

WVU announced Dec. 6 that select tickets to Big 12 home games are on sale through the Mountaineer Ticket Office.

Tickets can be purchased online at WVU game.com or by calling 1-800-988-4263.

Fans are encouraged to use the “Pick Your Own Seat” map at WVUgame.com for the Kansas
(Jan. 15), Kansas State (Feb. 3) and Oklahoma State (Feb. 10) games, at the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineer Ticket Office also has seats on sale for the Oklahoma (Jan. 6) Family Day game and the Texas Tech (Feb. 26) game.