ANAHEIM, Calif. -- De'Sean Butler stopped rushing his shot, stepped up his intensity and helped No. 8 West Virginia remain undefeated.
Butler scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Mountaineers to a 73-66 victory over Texas A&M in the 76 Classic on Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Butler added five assists and five rebounds for West Virginia (4-0), which advanced to Sunday's tournament final against either No. 22 Minnesota or Portland.
"Butler took over the game and made some big 3-point shots," said Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, who also praised the senior's defense. "Their half-court defense was the difference in the game. It got real physical in the second half and we didn't respond well. I thought Butler was the main reason for that."
Butler said his performance reflected a changed attitude.
"In the first half, I played a little bit too fast," he said. "In the second half, I slowed down and I was a little more enthusiastic on defense, which kind of made me more eager to play offense."
With the score at 44-all, Butler scored 10 points during a 12-1 surge that gave West Virginia a 56-45 lead with 11:47 to play.
Texas A&M (5-1), which held a four-point lead in the first half, used a 6-0 run to narrow the deficit to 67-63 with 1:08 left.
But after Butler converted a free throw, West Virginia's Devin Ebanks stole the ball, got fouled on a slam dunk and made the ensuing free throw to extend the lead to 71-63 with 42.9 seconds left.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said despite the win his team can play better.
"We're not near where we need to be," said Huggins. "When we made our run, we had five veterans on the floor. We've got to have five guys doing the same thing, which we didn't have today."
Ebanks came off the bench to get 14 points and nine rebounds, and Darryl Bryant scored 12 points.
B.J. Holmes and Donald Sloan each scored 18 points for the Aggies. Bryan Davis added a season-high 10 rebounds.
The Mountaineers shot 51.1 percent for the game, 61.9 percent in the second half.
The Aggies committed 16 turnovers and missed 13 of 31 free throws, including eight of 17 in the second half.
|De'Sean Butler, who attempts a shot here, scores 15 of his 17 points in the second half. (AP)|
|Texas A&M (4-1)||34||32||66|
|West Virginia #8 (4-0) «||32||41||73|
|TXAM:Donald Sloan 18 Pts
TXAM:Bryan Davis 10 Reb
TXAM:Donald Sloan 2 Ast
|WV:Da'Sean Butler 17 Pts
WV:Devin Ebanks 9 Reb
WV:Da'Sean Butler 5 Ast
|PLAYERS OF THE GAME|
|West Virginia||Texas A&M|
|Texas A&M Aggies|
|D. Sloan, G||31||6-11||6-8||3||2||3||18|
|D. Roland, G||24||3-9||2-2||3||1||4||8|
|B. Davis, F||24||2-6||2-8||10||0||5||6|
|D. Harris, G||22||1-1||0-1||6||2||2||2|
|N. Walkup, F||21||4-6||1-2||1||0||1||9|
|D. Loubeau, F||25||1-5||1-3||1||0||2||3|
|B. Holmes, G||25||5-9||6-7||3||0||3||18|
|N. Hibbert, G||20||1-3||0-0||3||1||2||2|
|K. Middleton, F||8||0-0||0-0||0||0||3||0|
|A. Darko, G||Did Not Play|
|D. Lewis, G||Did Not Play|
|C. Chapman, G||Did Not Play|
|M. Carrell, F||Did Not Play|
|S. Schepel, G||Did Not Play|
|J. Blasczyk, C||Did Not Play|
|R. Turner, F||Did Not Play|
|J. Adams, G||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|West Virginia Mountaineers|
|D. Bryant, G||34||4-8||4-5||0||4||2||12|
|D. Butler, F||32||5-11||5-6||5||5||3||17|
|K. Jones, F||29||4-6||1-2||5||0||2||11|
|W. Smith, F||19||2-2||0-0||1||3||4||6|
|C. Mitchell, G||17||1-9||0-0||1||0||1||2|
|D. Ebanks, F||29||4-6||5-5||9||0||2||14|
|C. Thoroughman, F||15||0-0||2-3||1||0||4||2|
|J. Flowers, F||10||1-1||0-0||1||3||4||2|
|D. Pepper, G||7||2-3||0-0||0||1||0||5|
|J. Mazzulla, G||6||1-1||0-1||0||1||2||2|
|D. Jennings, F||2||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|D. Kilicli, F||Did Not Play|
|B. Lowther, G||Did Not Play|
|C. Payne, G||Did Not Play|
|K. Ross, G||Did Not Play|
|J. West, G||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|