MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Devin Williams picked up right where he left off last weekend as he scored a career-high 26 points in No. 20 West Virginia’s 87-54 victory over Kennesaw State on Saturday.
Williams was selected the MVP in the Las Vegas Invitational last week and he was 11 of 15 from the field and had nine rebounds against Kennesaw State.
Daxter Miles Jr. added 18 points for the Mountaineers and Jonathan Holton had a season-high 17.
The victory was the first for the Mountaineers (7-0) since being ranked for the first time this season in The Associated Press Top 25.
“It’s about what we expected — to come in and play hard, build a lead,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
Now the Mountaineers can turn their attention to playing No. 10 Virginia on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic.
“I think it’s a tempo kind of deal. Who can get who playing the way they want to play,” Huggins said of the matchup of ranked teams. “(Virginia) tries to fortify the paint and make you shoot jump shots. That’s what it is. They double the post. They try to keep you from scoring close. They don’t want you to drive it close. They don’t want to pass it close. They want you to shoot jump shots.”
The outmanned Owls (2-8) had several slim defenders try and guard Williams, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound junior forward.
Kendrick Ray had 23 points for the Owls and Yonel Brown added 14.
The first half was sloppy with 20 personal fouls called on both teams. West Virginia turned the ball over 11 times in the first 20 minutes while Kennesaw State had 19 and finished with 31 for the game. West Virginia forced 30 turnovers against two other opponents this season.
West Virginia led the country in steals and forced turnovers entering the game. The opposition had turned the ball over on 29.2 percent of its possessions. The Mountaineers average 31.2 points per game off turnovers.
The Mountaineers, allowing 58.2 points per game, limited the Owls to just nine field goals in the first half and 10 in the second. The Owls made one 3-pointer in 7 tries.
“The thing is I thought we had some opportunities in the first half we just didn’t handle the ball as well as we should have. If we could clean that up just a little bit, then I thought we would have been OK,” Kennesaw State coach Al Skinner said.
Ahead 8-3, the Mountaineers outscored the Owls 11-2 to lead 19-5 with 11:04 left in the first half.
The 17-point deficit at halftime was the largest to that point of the game.
The Mountaineers are 7-0 for the second straight year. Last season, they lost to LSU at home to snap the streak.
Two veteran coaches faced each other in this one. Huggins, with 772 overall Division I victories, is the fourth active winningest coach behind Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Cliff Ellis. He has coached 34 years . Skinner is the winningest coach in Boston College history. While at BC, Skinner led the Eagles to seven NCAA Tournaments.
The Mountaineers and Owls had never met. Skinner, in his first season as Kennesaw State’s coach, entered the game 13-11 all-time against West Virginia in previous stints that included Rhode Island (1988-97) and Boston College (1997-2010).
West Virginia meets No. 10 Virginia at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.