The last time West Virginia played DePaul the Mountaineers escaped with a 67-65 victory at Allstate Arena. This time in Morgantown Bob Huggins' squad was ready and got out to a comfortable margin and maintained it throughout an 82-71 victory.
There were some bright spots for the Blue Demons. Tony Freeland had a nice spin move that led to a dunk, but there were also problems. In the first half, as the Mountaineers built a 13-point advantage, the defense disappeared. Closeouts on three-point shooters weren't fast enough and the man defense not tight enough to get rid of the crisp cutting of West Virginia.
There was also foul trouble for Krys Faber again in the first half. He came back to finish with 11 points on 5-5 shooting in 15 minutes, but it could've been even more had he not had to sit the final 12 minutes of the first half after picking up his third foul.
The offense for the Blue Demons was solid. DePaul shot 8-18 from beyond the arc. Oliver Purnell's squad is seeing a boost as some shots that weren't falling early in the season are starting to go down. Regression to the mean is a powerful thing, and DePaul has shot much better in their past few games.
Jeremiah Kelly seems much more confident with his shot now. On Saturday he shot 3-5 from beyond the arc and scored 9 points. Brandon Young shot 2-4 from beyond the arc and 4-6 overall to score 14 points. Jimmy Drew shot 3-7 from three and scored 13 points. The right players are getting open looks from the perimeter and its showing up in offensive balance. Another solid statistic? The Blue Demons had 14 assists and 13 turnovers.
But it was the defense that was the problem. West Virginia scored 82 points in 66 possessions, good for 1.24 points per possession. It was an impressive performance and it came from strong offensive balance, seven players scored at least eight points, and solid passing, the Mountaineers had 23 assists. The game was a clinic on how to attack Purnell's press.
That's going to happen with a DePaul team that is still learning how to play the press and doesn't have the personnel to run it in the hectic, athletic, fast style that it need to be played at. As teams get a second look they might be able to take advantage if they have the personnel.