MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In some ways, the season opener for WVU men’s basketball was a blast from the past.
It also could be very revealing about how Bob Huggins’ current unit, which he believes will excel on defense, will operate this season.
In their 76-58 win over Mount St. Mary’s, West Virginia pressed, dominated the glass, rejected shots at the goal and ran the floor. WVU limited its opponent to 32.7 percent shooting, forced 17 turnovers and recorded 11 steals and 4 blocks.
During one electrifying sequence in the second half, Emmitt Matthews Jr. finished a pair of fast breaks with slam dunks. One of those runouts was sparked by an Okonkwo block.
West Virginia outrebounded The Mount by a sizeable 45-28 margin. WVU also outscored its opponent in the paint (32-10), off turnovers (19-9) and in fast break points (15-3).
But while WVU showed some flashes of its great “Press Virginia” teams, some of the woes that have plagued it in previous seasons also returned. The Mountaineers went 6-20 from beyond the arc, committed one more turnover than their opponent and committed 22 fouls.
“I didn’t think we played very well,” said Huggins, who earned career win No. 917, moving him within three wins of tying Jim Calhoun. “We don’t make rotations, we don’t guard the ball as well as we need to guard the ball. We didn’t rebound it the way we’re capable of rebounding it, and we turn it over 18 times a game, which has got to stop.”
West Virginia used a 15-0 run late in the first half to take complete control of the game. They led 28-12 after that run concluded, and led 30-18 at halftime.
WVU led by as many as 19 points in the victory.
In his regular season return to the Coliseum, Matthews led the team in scoring with 15 points. Jalen Benjamin led The Mount with a game-high 18.
Though he was limited by injury during the preseason, transfer forward Tre Mitchell made his Mountaineer debut in the season opener, netting 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting. He also impacted the game during a sequence in the second half in which he scored on a tip-slam putback, and then drew an offensive foul moments later on the opposite end of the floor.
Newcomer Erik Stevenson also scored 10 points, finishing as the third WVU player in double figures.
West Virginia will travel to Pitt for its next game, which is set for Friday at 7 p.m. The Mountaineers have won the last five meetings in that series.