The Mountaineers defeated Oral Roberts 78-71 Friday night in the WVU Coliseum behind six WVU players who scored at least nine points led by senior forward Kevin Jones’ 20.
“Everybody, for the most part, still had our confidence despite the last game, but we didn’t know what to expect,” Jones said. “This is another learning experience. We got the win, and whether we got an ugly win or not, a win is a win. We’ve got to learn from it.”
WVU shot 57.7 percent in the first half and continued that hot shooting in the second half. For the game, the Mountaineers shot 58.8 percent – their best total since the 2007 game vs. Auburn.
However, the Mountaineers were out-rebounded by 13, turned the ball over 21 times and allowed 14 second-chance points. Still, WVU never trailed.
“We survived,” said head coach Bob Huggins. “We have very inconsistent effort.”
WVU started two freshmen – point guard Jabarie Hinds and forward Keaton Miles – and had three newcomers on the court a significant amount.
Player of the Game
“They did a hell of a job tonight,” said junior forward Deniz Kilicli, who was in the starting lineup despite missing the exhibition game last Friday for precautionary measures.
It was a lot closer at the end of the game than it looked like it would be midway through the second half.
With 2:31 to play, ORU had turned a once 14-point second-half WVU lead into just one when junior guard Warren Niles downed a three with 2:31 to play and forced Huggins to call a timeout.
Out of the break, Bryant drove through the lane opened by a screen from Kilicli with 2:04 to take a 74-71 lead.
Kilicli’s layup attempt with more than one minute to play went array, and the Mountaineers came back confused on defense. The entire WVU coaching staff stood trying to direct the young team, and a three from the left side fell wide, and ORU called a timeout.
WVU came out in a 1-3-1 for the first time in the game, but the Golden Eagles weren’t confused, as Niles had a shot at a wide-open three that missed long.
Senior point guard Truck Bryant hit two free throws to seal the victory. WVU didn’t allow a bucket in the last 2:43.
The Mountaineers’ defense was significantly improved from an exhibition loss to Northern Kentucky a week ago.
“Against Northern Kentucky, we lost, and we couldn’t do anything about it. We had a good weekend of practice, and this win was refreshing,” Hinds said.
West Virginia came out with more fire and intensity in the first half than a week ago. The Mountaineers were able to take a double-digit lead at 20-10 and take its
largest lead of the first half at 12 on a Hinds fast-break layup on an assist from Browne.
WVU built that lead up to 14 with 10:31 left in the second half.
Miles had four steals in the first half alone on Friday. That is more than any player had in a game last season. He finished with five – the most since March 19, 2010.
Freshman forward Aaron Brown was the first player off the bench, and all newcomers saw the floor.
Outside of Jones, Bryant had 17 points. Kilicli finished with 11, and Brown had 10. Browne and Hinds finished with nine.
ORU was led by forwards Dominique Morrison and Michael Craion, who had 21 and 18 points, respectively.