No. 19 WVU thumps NJIT, 102-69

Carter sets all-time steals mark in win

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) passes the ball while defended by NJIT forward Abdul Lewis, left, and guard Zach Cooks (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday in Morgantown.

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) passes the ball while defended by NJIT forward Abdul Lewis, left, and guard Zach Cooks (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday in Morgantown.

MORGANTOWN — Like a fine wine, WVU senior guard Jevon Carter gets better with time.

The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year overcame a sluggish start to lead No. 19 West Virginia to an 102-69 victory over visiting NJIT Thursday night at the Coliseum.

On an evening when the Illinois native became the all-time steals leader for the Mountaineers, Carter bucketed a game-high 25 points to lead five players into double digits. Sophomore Lamont West chipped in 13 points, freshman Teddy Allen added 16, James “Beetle” Bolden (12) and sophomore Wesley Harris scored 11.

“For not playing that well to win by 33 points is something,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “We’ve got to play a whole lot better than tonight to beat a team like Virginia.”

Moundsville native Chase Harler finished with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting while Cameron graduate Logan Routt chipped in two points and blocked as many shots in 11 minutes of action.

The Highlanders, who dropped to 4-3 on the season, were paced by sophomore Anthony Tarke’s 13 points and junior Diandre Wilson’s 12.

With No. 18 Virginia coming to town in five days, Thursday night’s non-conference clash with ASUN conference member NJIT was, as expected, a trap game for the Mountaineers.

Lethargic play on offense combined with another slow start offensively found the Old Gold and Blue leading by only eight points, 34-26, with four minutes remaining in the opening 20 minutes of action.

The Mountaineers finally woke up over those final four minutes to outscore their guests by a 15-7 margin to head to the lockerroom with a 49-33 advantage.

But that should be expected when you are facing the national leader in turnover margin (11.3) and forced turnovers (159) and has the country’s leader in steals – Jevon Carter (31).

For the second game in a row, WVU sophomore Sagaba Konate found himself on the bench for most of the first half with two fouls in the game’s first four minutes. WVU’s “Sultan of Swat” played only 15 minutes, finishing with five points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.

Carter’s third steal of the half with 56 seconds showing on the clock gave him 252 for his career and broke the old mark of 251 was set by Greg Jones from 1980-83.

The National Defensive Player of the Year was greeted by a standing ovation prior to the start of the second half when it was announced that he had broken the record.

“It (the record) don’t mean much right now,” said Carter. “I guess it will later in my career, but the goal tonight was to get a win.”

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