Mitchell continues hot streak, leads Mountaineers past American, 71-50
Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 23:12
Casey Mitchell's emergence as West Virginia's go-to scorer maintained a steady pace Wednesday.
In this game, however, he produced in an unusual fashion.
The senior guard finished with 27 points to record his fourth straight game with at least 25 points to push the Mountaineers past American to 71-50 Wednesday at the WVU Coliseum.
But only three of Mitchell's points came via a 3-point basket .
"Teams are going to realize I'm not just going to keep throwing up three balls," Mitchell said. "My role this year is to score more, so I'm taking more shots and doing what I have to do to score."
The Savannah, Ga., native entered averaging 3.2 3-pointers a game and has made at least four 3-pointers in two games this season. Despite Wednesday's scoring tying for his second-highest point outburst of the season, his one shot from beyond the arc was a season low.
Most of the baskets came up quick drives to the basket after taking advantage of defenders playing too close to him, Mitchell said.
"He didn't do that in junior college," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "He is doing a great job of curling the screens and getting to the foul line. And obviously he can make shots – that's never been an issue.
Mitchell hit his first 10 free-throw attempts in the game before missing his final shot to finish 10-of-11. The junior college transfer is now shooting a team-best 94-percent from the line on the season, ranking him inside the top 15 in the country.
The senior is now averaging 22.4 points-per-game, second best in the Big East Conference behind only Connecticut's Kemba Walker, who leads the nation, averaging 30 points.
"I knew he could do this," said forward Deniz Kilicli. "He has that talent, and he's showing it. I hope he stays this way."
Junior forward Kevin Jones finished with 16 points in the game, 11 of which came after halftime, while Truck Bryant scored nine in his first game back from sitting out WVU's game against VMI.
"We wanted to attack them as much as possible," Jones said."
American's Vlad Moldoveanu, who entered 20th in the nation in scoring, was held to just six points in the first half but responded with 13 points after halftime.
"We knew he was their leader and he always has the green light," Jones said. "We wanted to get on him as much as possible. He's a really good shooter, so we didn't want to give him any good looks. I just wanted to make it a focus to stay in his face the whole game."
West Virginia led from the beginning. Bryant scored five of the team's first nine points as WVU jumped out to a 9-4 lead.
The Eagles started 2-of-11 from the field and had two shot clock violations in the first eight minutes of the game. They finished 37-percent from the field in the game but just 3-of-15 from three-point range.
American's first 3-point basket didn't come until 1:17 into the second half.