MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Juwan Staten spent the first three games of this season trying to prove his well-roundedness. He passed, played defense and most of all he scored.
A guy who had never in his career scored 20 points was averaging that many. Twice in three games he'd set his career high, first with 22 in West Virginia's opener and then with 28 Sunday afternoon against Duquesne.
For all that Staten had accomplished, however, there was still a nagging omission from his recent resume. Recent? Actually he hadn't done it in 1,009 days.
Thursday night, though, while West Virginia (3-1) was doing pretty much anything it wanted against wholly outmanned Georgia Southern (2-2), it seemed only appropriate that Staten would take care of that statistical oversight, as well.
And so in the Mountaineers' 101-68 laugher over the Eagles in front of a sparse crowd of just 4,814, Staten took care of it. He made a 3-pointer.
And he smiled a broad smile. Not because he was satisfied he'd accomplished something or because deep down inside he'd finally proven he could do it. He was simply relieved that he wouldn't have to answer questions about the dry spell anymore.
"It wasn't really a sigh of relief,'' Staten said when asked about the big smile. "I just knew I'd be asked about it. I'm always asked about it.''
And, well, why not? After all, Staten is a point guard who has always done a decent amount of scoring. He had 13 double-figure scoring games in a season at Dayton. He had 11 more last year - including nine in the first 13 games - at WVU.
But while guard-like in stature, he was power-forward like in his ability to make 3s. His last was Feb. 16, 2011. Never a marksman from long range (he was just 4 for 21 when he made his last one at Dayton), he had all but given up trying. He was 0 for 5 the rest of that season, sat out the next year as a transfer, went 0 for 9 a year ago at WVU and had not even attempted one this season.
"It's not like I can't shoot the ball,'' Staten said. "Like I've said all along, I've been practicing it. It wasn't a big deal.''
Indeed, Staten had practiced a lot, and he's done well. Coach Bob Huggins said he watched Staten warm up before Thursday's game and make 13 in a row and 17 of 18 "until I quit counting.''
And then early in the rout of Georgia Southern, Staten finally let one fly and swished it. He would toss up another a few minutes later that missed and didn't try another.
But the one was enough to finally make it a non-issue.
"That's what he told me,'' Huggins said. "He said, 'I just want to make one so these people get off my back.' ''
Of course, in most games a fairly insignificant first-half 3-pointer wouldn't warrant much attention. But the fact is, this was a game in which it was hard to make much out of anything that happened. It was so lopsided and such a runaway that interest in the outcome waned after about 31/2 minutes. That's how long it took for West Virginia to jump to a 13-0 lead, which would be extended to 30 points in the first half and 41, 81-40, midway through the second.
Staten's 3 helped him score right at his 20-point average and lead five WVU scorers in double figures. He also had nine assists against just one turnover, along with three steals and five rebounds. In other words, he did it all, which is what he's been doing through the first four games.
"The great thing about [Staten] is that at this point he hasn't changed [his attitude],'' Huggins said. "His work ethic hasn't changed. He's taken it upon himself to know what we want to do and what the other team wants to do.''
West Virginia, which shot 56.3 percent and held a 46-36 rebounding edge, got 16 points each from Terry Henderson and freshman Devin Williams, along with 15 from Eron Harris and 11 from Gary Browne. Williams also had seven rebounds and fellow freshman Nathan Adrian had five points, five rebounds, three blocks, three assists and a steal.
Georgia Southern, which shot just 27 percent in the first half but 55.6 percent in the second, got 21 points from Tre Bussey.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.
West Virginia 101, Georgia Southern 68
Georgia Southern (2-2)
M FG FT R A P
Baynham 20 2-6 1-4 6 1 5
Matias 25 2-5 3-6 11 1 7