West Virginia easily defeated Loyola (Md.) 96-47 at the Coliseum behind a strong team effort the likes the Mountaineers had not provided yet during the young 2013-14 season.
With the win, head coach Bob Huggins moved into 16th place in all-time wins with 729.
WVU had struggled much of the season with rebounding but that was a strength versus the Greyhounds. WVU ended up with 62 total rebounds, nearly 30 above its average heading into the game. In fact, the Mountaineers nearly hit their average in rebounds by halftime.
"Obviously coming back from Cancun, I wasn’t very happy with how we’ve rebounded the ball, so we’ve emphasized it in practice," Huggins said.
The Mountaineers came into the game as a 64 percent free-throw shooting team but was 19-of-22 (86 percent) against Loyola.
Sophomore guard Eron Harris and junior point guard Juwan Staten didn’t have their best games this season. They combined to score just 18 points. However, other players stepped up in their place.
Sophomore forward Remi Dibo finished with a team-high 19 points. Sophomore guard Terry Henderson had 16 points. Freshman forward Nathan Adrian had 11 points, as well.
"We needed everyone contributing tonight. I think we really got it together. Players stepped up and made shots, and everyone contributed," Staten said.
Junior forward Kevin Noreen stole the show in the first half and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. It's his fourth-career double-digit scoring game.
"We scored 96 points, and Eron wasn’t very good. He’s been really good, and he didn’t play nearly as well as he has. Juwan didn’t score as well as he has. But, we were still able to score because Remi and Nate scored. Terry looked like Terry again. He had some bounce to him and made some shots," Huggins said. "It’s nice to be able to win like that without those two having one of their better games."
West Virginia shot 43 percent in the game and hit 13 threes. Loyola was held to 34 percent shooting.
The Mountaineers have now scored 77 or more points in all but one game this season. That is already more games than in 2012-13.
It was the largest margin of victory for the Mountaineers since the 2007-08 season.
Loyola came into the game with confidence after playing No. 13 Connecticut close in a 10-point loss, but the Mountaineers had an easier time against the Greyhounds on Monday.
WVU (6-2) now heads into another big non-conference matchup at Missouri on Thursday. The Mountaineers have yet to beat an opponent from a traditional power conference this season. It will then face Purdue and Gonzaga later this month at home.
"This is really a big stretch for us, and it will prepare us for Big 12 teams," Staten said. "It's something we're looking forward to."
West Virginia scored the first seven points of the game before the Greyhounds hit a shot nearly three and a half minutes into the game.
Loyola would cut the Mountaineers lead to five at multiple points in the first five minutes, but WVU’s shooting picked up later in the half.
The Mountaineers went on an 11-0 run that included two threes from Dibo and another from Adrian to go up 29-13. That lead would swell to 19 a minute later following a bucket from Noreen and a three from Henderson.
"They kept leaving me open, my teammates were setting me up and I was making them. That's what I do," Dibo said.
West Virginia ended the half on a 29-7 run to take a 47-20 lead over the Greyhounds.
The Mountaineers had a 34-to-7 rebounding advantage and had 24 second-chance points to Loyola’s zero at the half.
West Virginia cruised in the second half at home again. The Mountaineers haven’t had to close a game late in the Coliseum since its first game of the season versus Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 8.
Loyola was led by guard Dylon Cormier, who had 11 points in a losing effort.
"They were by far the toughest and best rebounding team we’ll play all year. When you get beat by 40 on the boards, it’s going to be embarrassing," said Loyola head coach G.G. Smith. "They’re going to be great in the Big 12. They’re going to surprise people."
Attendance was abysmal again at home for WVU as just 4,692 fans watched the game in person.