CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Devin Williams grimaced while retreating on defense, stiffly bending with an aching back in full flare-up. Meanwhile Brandon Watkins greeted his first college start with a swollen mouth.
Yes West Virginia had an easy time disposing of William & Mary 82-45, but this was a hard week for the Mountaineers’ big men.
Williams’ sore back—the side-effect of a lengthy bus ride back from his hometown Cincinnati after Christmas—limited the 6-foot-8 freshman to a season-low 13 minutes. He produced four points and six rebounds, clearly lacking his usual agility.
“He rode the Greyhound for 8 1/2 hours,” said coach Bob Huggins. “You can imagine being 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds and trying to get comfortable. He was kind of twisted.”
As for Watkins, the 6-9 freshman who showed flashes of promise in two games preceding the holiday break, lost two front teeth during a practice collision this week.
“He went over to the dental school and they did whatever you do, but he came back and finished practice,” Huggins said. “Some guys would drag it out the rest of practice, but he jumped right back in there.”
Watkins generated two points and four rebounds in 11 minutes.
Blood streamed from Nathan Adrian’s nose after he fouled Omar Prewitt and caught an inadvertent elbow to the schnoz. Yet even as the freshman sat out the final 7 minutes of the opening half, Huggins said he had no doubt Adrian would return.
“I’m coming off at halftime and the question is, ‘What are you going to do without Nate Adrian?’ And I said Nate’s going to play. Nate’s a rough guy,” Huggins said. “They’ve heard my lecture more than once about the difference in playing injured and playing hurt.”
THORNTON’S STREAK ENDS
William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton suffered through a putrid 3-of-16 shooting day and managed only nine points, which was more than 10 below his season average. The junior had not been held to single-digits scoring since February of his freshman year, a string of 42 games.
Thornton was only 1-of-8 from 3-point range, as William & Mary made 6-of-25 overall.
“I’m not pleased at all with our performance. I’m really surprised and disappointed,” said Tribe coach Tony Shaver. “We shot the ball really poorly … and I think that compounded the problem for us a little bit. Right now, how well we play offensively sort of dictates how we play defensively. We’ve got to turn that around.”
Rusthoven scored 13 points to lead William & Mary, which shot just 25 percent overall.
“We let their pressure take us out of our game,” Rusthoven said. “They were tougher than us today. They’re a good team, but we didn’t play our best either.”
West Virginia’s Eron Harris scored 10 points and finished 0-of-3 on 3s, only the second time this season he failed to make a shot from long distance. … The hot-and-cold season of Gary Browne continued: He was 1-of-8 shooting overall and 0-of-4 from 3-point range. … WVU shot 49 percent overall, a few points better than its season average of 46.6. The 14-of-15 performance on free throws set a season-high for accuracy, yet the Mountaineers still rank 282nd nationally (and last in the Big 12) in percentage of points from the foul line.