Butler leads No. 11 WVirginia past No. 21 Buckeyes
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—Da’Sean Butler stood in the way of an Ohio State payback.
Butler scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half and No. 11 West Virginia overcame a double-digit deficit to beat No. 21 Ohio State 71-65 on Saturday.
The Buckeyes couldn’t forget last year’s 76-48 loss to the Mountaineers in Columbus, Ohio State’s largest margin of defeat ever at home against an unranked opponent. And for a while it looked like Ohio State (14-6) would get revenge, leading by as many as 14 points early.
But Ohio State cooled off after making 55 percent (16-of-29) of its first-half shots. The Buckeyes made just one field goal over the final 8 minutes.
West Virginia (15-3) overcame yet another slow start and stepped up its intensity inside after halftime, driving the lane for easy baskets and outrebounding the Buckeyes 35-26 after the teams were about even in the first half.
“We challenged all of them at halftime to go out and do what we do,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
Butler listened, going 5 of 7 from the floor after the break.
“You miss shots and you make shots,” he said. “I was just happy to go out there and lead my team to a victory the best way I can.”
He said the biggest difference was “the way we came out in the second half by guarding, rebounding, and we started to make shots which made it easier on everybody.”
Darryl Bryant added 14 points and Wellington Smith had 11 for the Mountaineers.
William Buford led Ohio State with 22 points. Evan Turner had 18 and 11 rebounds, and Jon Diebler scored 11.
“They definitely made shots and got hot,” Turner said. “They got momentum which you can’t let them do when you’re on the road. When they got a little bit of light, they made shots and got confident. We had our foot on their throat and they were about to quit, but they made some shots.”
Trailing 40-28 at halftime, West Virginia scored the first 10 points of the second half to take control. Butler made 3-pointers a couple minutes apart that put the Mountaineers ahead 62-56 with 6:28 left. The second came from the corner as the shot clock expired.
“He’s made a lot of big shots in his career,” Huggins said. “We expect Da’ to do that.”
Turner, who had 13 first-half points, was quiet for most of the second half but made five free throws over a 2-minute stretch to keep the Buckeyes close.
Diebler hit two free throws with 1:37 left and Dallas Lauderdale scored off a Turner miss with 56 seconds left to bring the Buckeyes within 69-65, but Ohio State didn’t score again.
“We didn’t have the defensive intensity that we needed against what I considered a high-powered offense,” said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. “WVU did a great job at moving and finding open guys.”
West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks continued his January slump, going to the bench and getting an earful from Huggins midway through the first half for lapses on the offensive end.
Ebanks, the team’s third-leading scorer, had just seven points, the fourth time in five games he’s been below double figures.
Butler’s day didn’t start so well, either. He had three early turnovers, Ohio State scored the game’s first eight points and led 29-15 midway through the first half. It marked the fourth time in six games that West Virginia fell behind by double digits in the first half.
“Coming into this game, we picked up a pattern on what they were going to do and we prepared for every scenario,” Matta said. “They started the second half with two offensive rebounds and then they kept ending up with the ball. I guess we didn’t swarm as much as we need to, to get it back.”