MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Darryl "Truck" Bryant's career-high 34 points led West Virginia to an 83-69 victory over Villanova on Wednesday night in the Big East opener for both teams.
Bryant surpassed his former best of 27 points on Dec. 10 in a 77-66 victory over Miami.Three other players scored in double figures for the Mountaineers (10-3). Kevin Jones, who suffered a cut and received stitches over his right eye early in the second half, tallied 13 points. Backup freshman guard Gary Browne added 11 points and center Deniz Kilicli had 10.Villanova (7-6) was led by Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, who each scored 20 points. Mouphtaou Yarou added 13 for the Wildcats.Jones, who came in as the Big East's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 21 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, returned to the court soon after being elbowed above the right eye but managed just one field goal in the second half.While Jones was held in check, Bryant, who scored 13 points in the first half, gave West Virginia a boost.With the score tied at 63 with 5:45 remaining, it was Bryant, a senior, and Browne who scored the final 20 points of the game for the Mountaineers to turn it into a runaway.Bryant made two of three free throws to push West Virginia ahead 65-63 with 5:14 left, and the Mountaineers never trailed again.Bryant then intercepted a pass and handed off to Browne, who knocked in a 3-pointer without hesitation.Wayns briefly slowed the Mountaineers by hitting a jumper to make it 68-65, but the shot was one of just three field goals Villanova would score the rest of the way.Bryant drilled a 25-foot 3-pointer, then fed Browne for a perfect back-door layup to make it 73-65 West Virginia, its largest lead to that point.A Bryant jumper and a Browne coast-to-coast layup had the Mountaineers fans out of their seats as West Virginia continued on its 20-6 run.Bryant connected on 12 of 23 field goals in the game, was 4 of 10 from 3-point range and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line. He had three rebounds and three assists.Villanova outrebounded West Virginia 40-33, but the Mountaineers forced 15 turnovers. Twenty-four Mountaineers points came off turnovers, while Villanova mustered just six scores off misplays by West Virginia.The Wildcats hit just 3 of 14 baskets from beyond the 3-point arc (21.4 percent) compared to 8 of 21 (38.1 percent) for West Virginia.West Virginia's Kilicli and Villanova's Yarou were the leading rebounders with eight apiece.