Rebels fall to Mountaineers

Published 4:58 am Thursday, December 24, 2009

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Wellington Smith scored 17 of his career-high 19 points in the second half and No. 6 West Virginia used a huge rebounding edge and a big helping of second-half 3-pointers to beat No. 15 Mississippi 76-66 on Wednesday night.

Devin Ebanks added 14 points and 13 rebounds and Kevin Jones had 12 points for West Virginia (9-0), which is off to its best start since the 2004-05 team started 10-0 under a much softer schedule.

Facing a ranked opponent for the first time this season, West Virginia shot 60 percent (18 of 30) from the field after halftime and frustrated one of the nation’s top offenses. Mississippi (10-2) was held to its lowest points total of the season and saw its six-game winning streak snapped.

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Zach Graham led the Rebels with 14 points, while Eniel Polynice and Murphy Holloway had 13 apiece and Chris Warren added 10. Both of Mississippi’s losses have come to Big East opponents. The Rebels fell to No. 8 Villanova 79-67 in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Nov. 22.

West Virginia had a successful start to a tough stretch that includes its Big East opener Saturday at Seton Hall, another league game next Tuesday against Marquette and a showdown at No. 4 Purdue on Jan. 1.

West Virginia outrebounded Mississippi 52-33 and the Mountaineers went 7 of 10 on 3-pointers in the second half.