MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Many new faces made their West Virginia debuts Sunday as the Mountaineers pressed and plundered their way to a 109-60 exhibition win over Shepherd.
West Virginia worked on its full-court press throughout the game, finishing with 43 points off 27 turnovers, which included 20 steals.
“The key is that you put pressure on the ball and you have an opportunity to create a turnover the length of the floor instead of just in the half-court,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I think the cumulative effect is that it wears people down. It’ll wear us down too, but hopefully we’ll have enough guys that we can survive that.”
Some 11 WVU players registered at least 10 minutes with six Mountaineers finishing in double figures. Junior college transfer Jaysean Paige led the way with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
“Fans got a good glimpse of my game,” Paige said. “I didn’t hit as many shots as I wanted to though, I missed a few open shots. I played hard. I just want to play my hardest every time I’m out there on the floor and get stops, get to the basket and be aggressive.”
West Virginia’s starting five included Gary Browne, freshman Daxter Miles, Nate Adrian, Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton. Big 12 preseason player of the year Juwan Staten came off of the bench to score 11 points in 18 minutes. He has been limited in practice because of an injury.
“I’m doing alright,” Staten said. “The biggest thing is my wind—I just need to get my wind back. I haven’t had too many days of practice, so I’m a little bit behind. My ankle is fine, but my knee is bothering me a little bit. I’m getting healthy though.”
As for WVU’s rotation moving forward, that’s something that’s unclear even to Huggins.
“I don’t have a (set rotation). I could see 13 guys getting in,” Huggins said. “Tarik (Phillip) came in and I thought played pretty well, but I had forgotten about him. Those guys think it’s cool to sit on the end of the bench, they’ll figure it out. I don’t look that far down.”
Phillip finished 5-of-6 shooting for 10 points. Sophomore Devin Williams was just 3-of-10 for 11 points but grabbed 14 rebounds.
“The best thing I feel good about is stepping to the free-throw line in the second half and knocking some free throws down (5-of-7),” Williams said. “I think that’s key for me this year is concentrating and focusing on the free-throw line. That’s what I was pretty happy about.”
Holton added nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, showing off his overall athleticism on a couple of dunks.
“Holton is Holton. He plays hard and brings the energy,” Williams said. “Between me and him, if I grab the rebound, he’s running and if I get the rebound he’s running.”
Miles made 4-of-6 shots, finishing with nine points in 15 minutes.
“At first, to be honest, I was a little nervous, but Kobe Bryant gets nervous. Who wouldn’t get nervous on your first impression in front of the crowd?” Miles said. “When I took my first shot and it hit the rim a little, I knew I was alright. I brought it in the second half.
“Moving forward, I want to be a guy that can make my teammates better and score the ball,” Miles said. “I’m a freshman and I’m just trying to learn after all of the older guys. I feel good about this team.”
West Virginia officially opens regular-season play on Friday night from the WVU Coliseum against Monmouth.