West Virginia used a smothering full-court pressure defense and forced 24 turnovers in an 89-57 rout of Illinois. The Mountaineers scored 34 points off turnovers.West Virginia dominated Illinois from the moment the game started.
The Mountaineers shot 46% from the field and capitalized off 34 points from turnovers alone.
Nathan Adrian had 13 points and eight rebounds despite early foul trouble, and Jevon Carter made six steals to go along with 10 points and five assists for the Mountaineers, whom had a 19 point lead at halftime.
“That’s the key for us all the time,” Huggins said. “When you extend the floor the way we extend the floor and take the chances we take, you better come up with some (steals) or else it’s going to be a long night for us instead of them.”
Michael Finke led Illinois (4-2) with 13 points, and Mike Thorne Jr. had 12. Star senior Malcolm Hill had seven points for the Illini and Leron Black had nine rebounds. Illinois made a few runs in the first half. At one point, they cut the West Virginia lead down to only 10 with 5 minutes to go in the first half. Eventually, West Virginia closed out the first half strong and opened the second half with a 12-0 run.
Undoubtedly, this was an embarrassing loss for the Illini. But the positive is that they are unlikely to play anyone in the Big Ten that resembles West Virginia. Illinois still have to work on ball control and opening up the passing lane for a more fluent offensive settings. That’s why an embarrassing loss like this could be a blessing for the bigger picture. Still a lot of basketball to be played for Illinois.
Bob Huggins’ teams are renowned for their trap and their ability to turn opponents’ turnovers into fast-break points. Nothing has changed in that regard. Temple will have their work cut out for them in the finals of the NIT Season Tip Off Championship game on Friday.