PoG: WVU - Seton Hall
Kevin Jones
Kevin Jones
Staff Writer
Posted Feb 2, 2011


The Mountaineer men's basketball team's 56-44 win over Seton Hall was decided, in large part, by WVU's dominance on defense and on the glass. So it should come as little surprise that one of the team's best defenders and its best rebounder earned our top honors.

PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Kevin Jones.

Is it any surprise that the Mountaineers' own Mr. Consistency gets our top honors at the end of a game that was all about defense and rebounding?

The junior forward from Mount Vernon, N.Y. had yet another double-double, with team-highs in both points (13) and rebounds (12).

Ho hum.

This is such a regularity for Jones that it almost seems like a given going into any game. But time and time again, it's Jones that gets the pivotal rebound to extend a position (he had five offensive boards). Time and time again, he scores on put-backs to give his team a bit of breathing room.

If it's true that teams take on the personality of their head coach and/or their best player, then perhaps it's no surprise that West Virginia is becoming a juggernaut on the glass and as a defensive team.

With Bob Huggins and Kevin Jones occupying those respective roles, it just makes sense. Jones epitomizes that old sports cliche -- he makes everyone else around him better. That's a big reason WVU is playing relatively well of late despite its many issues.

NET BURNERS:

  • Cam Thoroughman.

    Credit Garrett Cullen of MetroNews for my favorite WVU basketball statistic ever: by the time Wednesday night's game was 3:30 old, Thoroughman had already matched his career-high for made field goals in a game, with three.

    It was a banner night for the forward from Portsmouth, Ohio. He had a career-high 10 points and grabbed four rebounds while dishing out a pair of assists.

    Thoroughman played efficiently. He shot 5-of-7 from the field, causing Mountaineer fans to implore him to take 3-pointers when he found himself open on multiple occasions.



    Cam Thoroughman
    Observers should note Thoroughman said he didn't like the added pressure of those calls to shoot and said they make him less likely to put one up.

    That aside, Thoroughman played a typical game in most areas other than the scoring. He set key screens, defended well, played physically and set the tone all game long.

    But one key area was different. He committed only one foul in 26 minutes.

    On a team with only eight scholarship players on its active roster, it's important that Thoroughman is available to play as many minutes as possible. He's avoiding the silly fouls that have plagued him in the past, showing his ability to play smart basketball when his team needs him.

    Some have snidely wondered at times if Thoroughman would be a starter on any other Big East Conference team. No matter. He's plenty good enough for West Virginia, and a big reason why this team didn't fall apart entirely in recent weeks.

  • Deniz Kilicli.

    The big guy is starting to play better overall. He definitely plays better angry.

    Kilicli was downright furious in stretches of the second half, insisting he was taken down by a Seton Hall player on one trip downcourt and begging for fouls to be called on other occasions.

    He got into a bit of a verbal jousting match with some of his opponents and even gave a bit of sarcastic applause to a referee who again neglected to call fouls when he felt he was being hacked.

    At times, the sophomore seemed dangerously close to picking up a technical foul. But Bob Huggins left him in the game.

    For good reason, apparently. Kilicli released a bit of pent up frustration on one of the Coliseum's rims, throwing down a powerful two-hand dunk that got the crowd rocking.

    But he had already played well enough to earn this spot on our list long before that stretch.

    Maligned by Huggins for his inability to make quick moves in the post after a rough outing at Louisville, Kilicli appeared to have taken those lessons to heart.

    At one point in the first half, he moved so quickly to take a hook shot, he didn't even have time to notice that he was totally undefended and could have simply attacked the rim for a layup. Thankfully for the big Istanbul native, the hook shot went in anyway.

    Kilicli ended up with 10 points and seven rebounds in only 15 minutes of play. He's becoming a better rebounder and defender -- the two things Huggins has said the big man needs to work on most.

    Everyone who watches Kilicli knows what he can do in terms of scoring. If he begins to get up to speed in terms of the other parts of his game, watch out.

  • Not remotely satisfied.

    Given Thoroughman's breakout performance, I expected a bit of happiness from the senior forward. Perhaps even a smile.

    Nope.

    Thoroughman's aforementioned career-high of 10 points, one would think, would be enough to elicit a bit of satisfaction. After all, the forward has only told us for about three years that he was recruited by John Beilein as a shooting guard.

    Instead, in the immediate aftermath of the win, he was focused on the poor stretch of play the team had in the last 5:00 or so of the contest, allowing Seton Hall to come back from what was a deficit of more than 20 points and get to within a missed 3-pointer from Keon Lawrence from being down only seven in the final minute.

    Huggins emphasized the same, wondering once again why his team can't seem to put together a complete 40-minute effort.

    Sure, coaches and players have to be inherently a bit more negative than most other observers, but that doesn't make what WVU is doing with a short bench any less remarkable.

    Though its toughest stretch of Big East play lies ahead, it still finds itself in a four-way tie for second place in the standings at the halfway point.

    And if the players truly learn from the mistakes they made down the stretch of games like this, they should be in fine shape come NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.

    Maybe then, they'll allow themselves to at least take a bit of pride in what they've put themselves in position to accomplish.



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