West Virginia built a 24-point lead, then failed to score a field goal over the final 8 minutes and settled for a 56-44 win over the Pirates on Wednesday night.
The 25th-ranked Mountaineers (15-6, 6-3 Big East) looked as bad in the end as it did good from the start, managing only three free throws during that final span while allowing Seton Hall (10-13, 4-7) to make the outcome look respectable.
“We just stood around,” Huggins said. “I don’t know why we do it. I can’t explain it. We took bad shots out of character for what this team has to do to be good.”
Kevin Jones scored 13 points to surpass 1,000 for his career and had 12 rebounds. Deniz Kilicli and Cam Thoroughman added 10 points apiece and Joe Mazzulla had 10 rebounds.
Thoroughman, who’s gotten more playing time following the indefinite suspension of leading scorer Casey Mitchell last month, finished with a career high in points.
“I’ve been telling him to shoot it,” Huggins said. “When they have a guy standing in front of the goal and they don’t guard him at 10 feet, he’s got to shoot it and he’s capable of shooting it in.”
Thoroughman wasn’t about to pat himself in the back, not with the way the game ended.
“We can’t lie down like that,” he said. “I don’t know if we lost intensity or what during the last eight minutes. We can’t do things like that against the other teams in the Big East.”
Seton Hall was held to its lowest scoring output of the season. Jeff Robinson led the Pirates with nine points. Hazell, who had averaged 27 points in four previous games against the Mountaineers, was limited to a season-low five.
West Virginia led 33-17 at halftime and by as many as 24 points midway through the second half in beating the Pirates for the seventh straight time.
The Mountaineers improved their streak of holding opponents to under 60 points to four games. Seton Hall shot just 29 percent (18 of 61) from the floor and was outrebounded 48-36.
Despite rotating just eight players, the Mountaineers never trailed and began pulling away after Seton Hall’s Herb Pope got into foul trouble and sat out most of the first half.
The Pirates went nine minutes between field goals spanning both halves, enabling West Virginia to take over.
“We just didn’t play a very good first half offensively,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard. “They’re a terrific defensive team and they are hard-nosed. We knew we were going to struggle with the score, but I didn’t think we were going to struggle that much.”
West Virginia extended its 16-point halftime lead to 47-23 with 12:08 left in the game after a Thoroughman jumper.
Seton Hall turned things around with a 15-2 run after that but got no closer than nine points the rest of the game.
Only West Virginia’s strong start saved the Mountaineers from their own sour ending.
“I think we just wanted the game to be over with,” said West Virginia’s John Flowers. “It wasn’t that fun out there and they (Seton Hall) were playing like street ball.”