LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins called out his team after the opening round of the Advocare Invitational.
It definitely sunk in.
James Bolden scored 17 points, Jevon Carter had 16 and No. 23 West Virginia quickly responded after surviving an upset scare one day earlier by routing Central Florida 83-45 on Friday night in a semifinal at the Advocare Invitational.
“We played with more energy today,” Huggins said. “We weren’t ready to play yesterday.”
The Mountaineers (5-1) used stellar defense to take a 43-20 lead at halftime. West Virginia held UCF to 19 percent shooting (4 for 21) and scored 17 points off the Knights’ 17 turnovers.
Bolden had 12 points and Carter 11 during the opening 20 minutes.
Seven-foot-6 center Tacko Fall had 11 points and eight rebounds for Central Florida (4-1).
“It was a tough night. You give West Virginia a lot of credit,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I think they played a really great game.”
West Virginia also found its shooting touch as the first half progressed, finishing at 41 percent (16 for 39) after converting just 17 percent over the opening 6 minutes.
The Mountaineers struggled in Thursday’s opening round before putting winless Marist away 84-78.
Central Florida could get no closer than 19 points in the second half.
West Virginia could improve its standing in the AP Poll by winning the invitational championship Sunday night. A loss may knock the Mountaineers out of the Top-25.
Central Florida: Had just 17 turnovers overall in Thursday’s 68-59 win over Nebraska. The Knights finished with 27 Friday. “”We turned the ball over way too much and that really led to them get easy opportunities,” Dawkins said.
West Virginia: Huggins watched his team have foul issues, again. After committing 25 Thursday, the Mountaineers followed up with 27 Friday.
Carter has put himself in position to become the invitational’s Most Valuable Player. The senior guard is averaging 18 points, 4.5 assists and 35 minutes through two games. “He does more things than anyone else in the country,” Huggins said. “He got his hands on so many balls and he’s good on the ball and he handles the ball for us and distributes and he’s our captain.”
Fall, who entered 4 for 5 from the free-throw line, went 3 for 10.
Central Florida: Plays St. John’s in Sunday’s third-place game.
West Virginia: Missouri will be the opponent in Sunday’s championship game.