After trailing 25-21 at the end of the first half, the West Virginia Mountaineers outscored Cleveland State 32-18 in the second half to run away with a 53-43 win on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum.
With starting point guard Joe Mazzulla out with a shoulder injury and backup Darryl "Truck" Bryant playing just 12 minutes, Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins had to show off some of the depth that he has on his bench, with 13 players entering into Saturday's game.
Junior Da'Sean Butler led the way for the Mountaineers (6-1), along with freshman Devin Ebanks. Butler led the team with 18 points on a seven of 16 shooting performance and Ebanks put in his first career double-double with 10 points and 17 rebounds.
With a layup at the 8:19 mark in the first half, senior Alex Ruoff became the 45th player in WVU history to score 1,000 points. The Florida native finished the game with five points, four rebounds, and three assists. "I think Alex Ruoff is a great example of what can happen when you work." Huggins told MSNSportsNet.com after the game.
The Mountaineers blocked ten Cleveland State shots, including four from sophomore John Flowers, two from Ebanks, and one from Ruoff, junior Wellington Smith, sophomore Cam Thoroughman, and freshman Kevin Jones - who also scored six points in his 15 minutes.
Coach Huggins' team showed improvement from the free throw line on Saturday. After missing all three attempts from the charity stripe, West Virginia 15 of 18 foul shots in the second half to finish the game at 71 percent, a lot better than the 48 percent they shot at the line in their last game against Mississippi.
The Vikings (5-4) were led by Norris Cole's 12 points and three steals. Reigning Horizon League Player of the Week J'Nathan Bullock was held to just eight points against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia returns to action on Tuesday as they will take on No. 22 Davidson, led by Stephen Curry, at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic.