MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Nathan Adrian will have to be West Virginia’s best player if the Mountaineers are going to make a deep March Madness run this season.
So far, so good.
Adrian had 15 points and 14 rebounds for his first career double-double, helping No. 19 West Virginia cruise past Mississippi Valley State 107-66 on Monday night.
“Nate just can’t get hurt,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “I don’t know what we’d do without him. We run everything through him. You watch him and then you watch everybody else, it looks like everybody else has their feet in cement. He wants to win, he wants to do things right.”
Adrian set a career high for rebounds in this one, and his point total was his highest since getting 16 on Dec. 29, 2013 against William & Mary.
“I’m just listening to coach and what he has to teach me and doing the best I can,” the 6-foot-9 forward said. “I don’t expect to be the leading scorer on the team. It doesn’t matter who does. Whoever can score points to help us win the game.”
The Mountaineers (2-0) were sluggish at first, but after four lead changes in the first two minutes, Adrian and Jevon Carter fueled a 17-0 run that put West Virginia ahead 21-5 at the first media timeout.
West Virginia shot 72.7 percent from the free-throw line, a spike from when they made 58.6 percent in their game against Mount St. Mary’s last Friday. The Mountaineers also scored 34 points off of 26 turnovers Monday.
Teyvon Myers and Lamont West scored 12 points for West Virginia, and Carter and Esa Ahmad had 10.
For the second straight game, Daxter Miles, Jr. did not see any time on the court.
Marcus Romain had 13 points for the Delta Devils (0-2). It’s his eleventh straight game in double figures.
“Him scoring in double figures is a given,” Mississippi Valley State coach Andre Payne said. “What we’re concerned about with him is his turnovers. It’s two bad games back to back where he’s had six turnovers and that’s where we got to get him, from turning the ball over so much, because if you’re going to have the ball in your hand that much, you got to make good decisions.”
West Virginia went up one spot in the AP Top 25 on Monday due to Connecticut’s loss to Wagner on Friday. If the Mountaineers can handle New Hampshire on Sunday, they will likely remain at 19 or move up a spot or two depending on what happens above.
THE BIG TWELVE
A dozen players scored for the Mountaineers, and nine of them got more than 10 minutes on the court. Huggins is showing, once again, how deep West Virginia can be.
In the first 20 minutes, the Mountaineers took advantage of the Delta Devils’ miscues by scoring 26 points off 18 turnovers. They continued that dominance in the second half with another eight points off eight turnovers.
Mississippi Valley State: After losses to two Power 5 schools, the Delta Devils continue their 15-game season-opening road trip which includes stops at No. 13 Michigan State, No. 6 Indiana, No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 20 Iowa State.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers start the NIT Season Tip-Off on campus against New Hampshire before going to Brooklyn, New York to face Illinois on Thanksgiving Day.
Mississippi Valley State plays at Kent State on Wednesday.
West Virginia hosts New Hampshire on Sunday.