ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -West Virginia shot itself out of its offensive woes.
Casey Mitchell scored a career-high 18 points and No. 8 West Virginia routed Long Beach State 85-62 on Thursday in the first round of the 76 Classic. The Mountaineers made 12-of-24 3-pointers and shot 51.8 percent from the field while the 49ers committed 22 turnovers and shot 41.9 percent.
``They haven't shot like that the first two games,' Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson said. ``It's no secret it makes the game a lot easier when your shots are going in. We didn't do a good job defensively especially finding shooters. Once they got into a flow, it's hard to turn that flow off.'
The Mountaineers (3-0) led the entire game in the first meeting ever between the two schools.
Greg Plater and Stephan Gilling each had 14 points for Long Beach State (3-2), which was trying for its first win against a ranked team since 1994.
West Virginia forward Da'Sean Butler, who had nine points in the first half, finished with 13.
``I would say we came out more focused today as opposed to the other game,' Butler said. ``We want to win the tournament; we wanted to play as hard as we can to have a good kick off to the season.'
Mitchell, last year's junior college national player of the year, had nine points in the first half and made four 3-pointers.
``In warm-ups I tried to go hard so I could come out right away and be focused, play hard,' Mitchell said. ``A couple of games I was taking bad shots so I just tried to work on taking my shots within the offense and making sure they were good shots.'
West Virginia star sophomore forward Devin Ebanks missed his third straight game because of undisclosed personal reasons. There was no timetable for the all-Big East rookie selection's return.
Ebanks' absence allowed others to pick up the slack offensively.
But West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said it's possible Ebanks would play in the semifinals on Friday.
``We'll have to see,' Huggins said. ``It's a matter of making sure he's up to speed with what we're doing. We'll make a decision as the game unfolds.'
Walk-on Jonnie West, son of NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, had a career-high 11 points.
West Virginia point guard Joe Mazzulla gave the team a lift off the bench after Darryl Bryant picked up two early fouls. Mazzulla had five points, four rebounds and three assists in 11 first-half minutes.
T.J. Robinson had 10 points and led Long Beach State with eight rebounds.
The Mountaineers weren't bothered by Long Beach State's full-court press, but the 49ers had a hard time handling West Virginia's stifling man-to-man defense. Long Beach committed 15 turnovers in the first half and couldn't get into a rhythm offensively. The 49ers finished with 22 turnovers.
Mitchell made his first three 3-pointers helping West Virginia jump out to a 14-6 lead. After Plater made a 3-pointer pulling the 49ers closer at 16-9, the Mountaineers held them scoreless for more than four minutes making it 20-9.
``Every game we really try to press people, take them out of what they want to do,' Huggins said. `` I think we used our length a little bit to kind of disrupt them.'
The Associated Press News Service
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