Bryant keyed an early 15-1 run that turned a 13-13 game into a 28-14 Mountaineer lead at the 12-minute mark, then helped seal the victory with a pair of traditional three-point plays during a late 10-0 push that effectively put the game out of reach at 68-43 inside 10 minutes.
“We made some free throws early, Truck made some shots early and I thought defensively we played well,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said.
West Virginia, ahead 42-18 at one point before a slow RU rally, coasted from there and actually began running clock even before the under four minute timeout. It was, arguably, the most complete game of the season for the Mountaineers (11-4, 2-1 Big East), who hit 57 percent of their shots – and a sizzling 54 percent from three-point range – and converted 28 of 37 free throws (76%) against a Rutgers team in foul trouble seemingly from the get go. WVU was already in the bonus with just eight minutes played in the first half, and the Scarlett Knights often resorted to grabbing jerseys or hard hack fouls because of being out of position defensively.
No player took advantage of that more than Bryant, who finished a pair of transition baskets with lay-ins in the key 10-0 run, then hit the resulting free throw as two separate Rutgers players made half attempts at stopping the break. It was a microcosm of the game, and Bryant eventually kicked the rout into high gear, driving the lane minutes later to hit another banked bucket and free throw for his final three-point play and a ballooning lead that reached as many as 27 at 51-24. The 51 first-half points were a season high.
“We got some breakouts,” Huggins said on his postgame radio show. “There were some steals that we scored on and some big rebounds that we were able to score on.”
Bryant made 11 of 13 free throws, several down the stretch, and hit four of five three-pointers to amass his fourth 20-plus point game of the season. His outside excellence was matched by Deniz Kilicli and Kevin Jones on the interior. Kilicli scored 16 points, missing just one shot, and Jones added 14 points and 14 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
Eli Carter led Rutgers (8-7, 1-2) with 19 points. Jerome Seagears added 10. No other Knight reached double figures as Rutgers lost to WVU for the seventh consecutive time just two games after beating then-No. 10 Florida.
“We made them go where we wanted them to go, finally,” Huggins said. “We’ve been letting people go where they wanted to go.”
Rutgers outscored West Virginia 17-7 over the first nine minutes of the second half to get within 58-43. The Mountaineers answered with a 10-0 push that included a pair of Bryant three-point plays via transition lay-ups and resulting free throws and Jones’ four points and a block. That run pushed the edge to 68-43 with nine minutes left. The six transition points were part of a 16-0 advantage in that category.