Routt, defense lead West Virginia rout of Madrid in exhibition opener

West Virginia didn’t miss the services of prized recruit Oscar Tshiebwe on Tuesday.

Logan Routt and a WVU defense that forced 20 turnovers and recorded 16 steals made sure of that.

In the first of three exhibition games during its tour of Spain, the Mountaineers ran away from the Madrid All-Stars in the fourth quarter to pick up an easy 97-69 victory.

WVU never trailed and six players scored in double figures with sophomore forward Emmitt Matthews leading the way with 17 points.

“I saw some good things and I saw some bad things,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said. “We’re not guarding the ball yet the way we need to guard the ball. That was a problem a year ago.”

Tshiebwe, a 6-foot-9 forward from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the first five-star recruit to sign with the Mountaineers since 2008, did not make the trip due to a visa restriction.

On this day, he was not needed, as the Mountaineers held Madrid without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game to take a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Madrid All-Stars Box

Routt, a 6-11 senior from Cameron, filled in nicely. He came off the bench to finish with 16 points and eight rebounds and was able to finish plays in transition and after grabbing offensive rebounds.

Instead of a full-court “Press” Virginia style of defense, the Mountaineers began by pressuring and trapping in the half-court, which began a slew of turnovers for Madrid.

Freshman Deuce McBride and sophomore Derek Culver provided the offensive spark early, both scoring five points in the quarter.

WVU did show spurts of its full-court pressure, but not to the extent Huggins will likely use once the season begins in November.

The Mountaineers shot 9 of 26 from 3-point range and shot 49 percent (39 of 79) from the field.

Matthews got hot in the fourth quarter with two 3-pointers, as the Mountaineers outscored Madrid, 31-17, in the final quarter.

The sophomore also added two impressive dunks, one in transition while being fouled and another off an offensive rebound that he slammed home with one hand.

Chase Harler added 14 points, as did McBride in his first action with the Mountaineers.

“Deuce McBride, I thought was really good,” Huggins said. “He gives us size at the guard position. He gives us strength and toughness that we haven’t had in a while. He’s got an opportunity, I think, to be a special kind of guy.”

Junior-college recruit Sean McNeil added 11 points off the bench, including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Culver finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Jordan McCabe led the Mountaineers with eight assists.

WVU next plays Valencia Basketball Academy at 1:30 p.m. Friday, before finishing its tour against the Barcelona All-Stars at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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