MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On the night Jevon Carter became West Virginia’s all-time steals leader, he displayed yet again why his game is so well rounded.
The point guard scored 25 points, made 6-of-6 free throws, grabbed nine rebounds and handed out six assists as the No. 19 Mountaineers blistered NJIT 102-69 on Thursday night.
Though Carter’s five steals surpassed the career mark held by Greg Jones since 1983, coach Bob Huggins cautioned fans not to fixate on one statistic.
“It’s not just steals. He was the national defensive player of the year. He’s been an All-Big 12 defensive player three consecutive years and this will be four. He’s also going to be top-10 in assists and maybe top 10 in scoring,” Huggins said.
“And he very well could go down as the all-time winningest player in school history.”
Carter’s record culminated in a video board announcement during a media timeout, with the crowd of 8,882 rising for an ovation. But the senior wasn’t exactly awash in the moment.
“I was trying to pay attention to what Huggs was saying, and I couldn’t hear it because everybody started cheering,” Carter said. “So I had to ask him what he said again.”
Winners of seven straight games, the Mountaineers (7-1) will take four days off before hosting No. 18 Virginia. In the interim, Huggins’ team has plenty of issues to address in practice. The 33-point drubbing of NJIT (4-3) obscured some defensive failings, particularly by Carter’s teammates on the interior.
“We can’t give up 34 points in the paint to those people, and we can’t turn people loose the way we turned people loose today,” Huggins said.
Anthony Tarke scored 13 points and Diandre Wilson finished with 12 for the Highlanders, who shot 40 percent and had their three-game winning streak snapped.
West Virginia had trouble separating early but built a 49-33 cushion thanks to a 17-5 run late in the half. During that sequence Carter set the record by claiming steal No. 252, leading to a transition dunk by freshman Teddy Allen, who added 16 points off the bench.
Lamont West, on his way to a 13-point performance, avoided Huggins’ halftime rant while receiving five stitches in his bottom lip after being hit on a rebounding scrum.
“I missed all of it. I didn’t hear not one yell,” West said.
Because West’s No. 15 jersey was bloodied, he switched to a nameless No. 22 in the second half, when the game became a blowout in the opening 4 minutes. West sank a 3 from the wing and finished a conventional three-point play on a drive, helping the Mountaineers reel off 15 unanswered for a 64-35 lead.
Beetle Bolden scored 12 as “Press Virginia” enjoyed a relatively mild night by forcing 19 turnovers, three below its season average.
After rallying from 16 down to beat Missouri in the AdvoCare Invitational final, Carter shrugged off the notion of West Virginia lacking emotion for NJIT.
“I’m never worried about a letdown because if I lead these guys the right way we’re going come to play every night,” he said.
Allen on the drive
While Allen missed his only 3-point attempt and fell to 1-of-14 this season, the freshman countered by driving and making 6-of-8 shots at the rim.
“My jumper hasn’t been falling this year, so the coaches are encouraging me to get to the rim,” he said. “I’m going to get it corrected though.”