Earlier in the year the worry here was about the slow starts the basketball team was getting off to on the road. Well this has turned into a season long theme that has extended into the Coliseum. Last night WVU scored 17 first half points. The football team scored 24 in the first half against Pitt. A brief second half burst got the Mountaineers back into the game. Of course the Mountaineers also wilted at the end last night and scored just 2 points in the final 4:46. The team finished with a 47-60 loss which is two more points than the football team scored. Though in all fairness the football team sat on the ball when they could have scored in the last few minutes.
WVU played a live by the three die by the three game last night and it lead to 32.7% shooting including 6 of 27 from three (22%). The lack of makes kept WVU out of the 1-3-1 defense which seemed effective vs. Pitt. Da'Sean Butler continued to play well for WVU as he led the team with 14 points and was consistently the only player willing to drive at Aaron Gray (although it did end in a majority of Butler's shots in the paint being blocked). Gray finished with 14 for Pitt and Sam Young had a career high 21. In an interesting piece of strategy, WVU went small versus Gray for the majority of the game and covered him with Butler and Nichols. This actually was the most effective defense against the big guy. Although he had a 3 foot height advantage Pitt struggled with the inlet pass and Gray was unsure against the smaller guys unless within a foot or two. Summers and Smalligan were unable to slow Gray down when in the game and spent most of the second half working on a level three Sudoku together.
WVU had open looks all night, but couldn't get anything to fall. Last night the team shot too many threes early in the game before any shooting rhythm was developed. Also, the Mountaineers stood around on offense near half court for 20 seconds of the shot clock with no movement on too many possessions. These possessions inevitably ended in a long three with a few seconds on the shot clock. It appeared that Alexander could drive all night, but only did so for about a 5 minute stretch in the second half. Even then Joe had a tendency to attempt the layup while falling away from the basket making the degree of difficulty much higher. In the end 27 of 49 shots were threes and they just weren't going in last night. In addition, WVU seemed content to stand 5 around the three point line and fire up a three from 30+ feet instead of attack the big guys of Pitt in the lane. However, the team has a chance to rebound quickly with #2 UCLA coming to town on Saturday.