On Thursday, the Braves didn’t stand a chance against the Mountaineers, which outscored Alcorn State by 16 in the first half and continued to pour it on in the second half in a 97-62 victory.
“Can we be honest? Who looked at this schedule and didn’t think we would win this one?” said head coach Bob Huggins after the game. “I told them that. I don’t like to them.”
Senior forward Kevin Jones had one of his best performances as a Mountaineer. He finished with a career-high 29 points and 13 rebounds in the victory over the Braves. That was the best scoring-rebounding total for WVU since 1983 in a regulation game.
“I want to be on top of my game every day. I’m not going to have games like that every time out, but being out there mentally with them and fighting out there with them, they need me,” Jones said. “I’m going to try to provide that as much as possible.”
In addition, with 16:02 to play in the first half, Jones earned the program’s all-time leading offensive rebound record. He received a standing ovation for that effort later in half during a timeout. He now has 331 career rebounds.
“When it’s all said and done, he’s had a Hall of Fame career,” Huggins said. “He’s worked so hard, and he’s such a wonderful guy.”
Player of the Game
10 offensive rebounds
WVU shot 48.6 percent from the field and held the Braves to just 35.5 percent – that’s the best mark of the season for West Virginia defensively. In addition, the Mountaineers had their most success with the fast break this season.
“After the loss, we couldn’t wait to get back out on the court and unleash some stress on the opponent,” said senior point guard Truck Bryant. “Down the road, this is the team that we expect every night.”
After recording three fouls early in the first half that limited his playing time for the second time this season, Bryant played more consistently in the second half. He finished with 18 points and four assists in the game.
“I thought he was really good today,” Huggins said. “He let the game come to him instead of forcing it. This is probably the best he’s been all year.”
West Virginia had some help from a surprise first-half player, walk-on freshman Paul Williamson, who played nine minutes in the first half and scored six points.
He hit two of the Mountaineers’ five first-half threes. He finished with seven points and 19 minutes. At the end of the game, fans were chanting, “Get Paul the ball.”
“There’s no better place to play in the world than here. Coach Huggins is excellent, and the fans here are just unbelievable,” Williamson said.
WVU continues to tinker with its lineup throughout the game. nine players recorded more than 10 minutes for the Mountaineers. Williamson and freshman forward Pat Forsythe scored their first career points.
Freshmen forwards Aaron Brown and Keaton Miles have had their minutes decrease each game from the season opener.
The Mountaineers were up just 13-12 midway through the first half when Jones went hard at the glass and out-worked the Alcorn State front line. He scored eight straight points – six of those on offensive rebound putbacks – to give the Mountaineers a 21-12 lead.
Down the floor on West Virginia’s next possession, Williamson hit his first career shot, a deep three, to double up the Braves at 24-12.
That would be the Mountaineer’s largest lead of the half, as WVU and Alcorn State would exchange buckets for much of the final 10 minutes. Up by 13 with less than 30 seconds to go, Williamson found freshman point guard Jabarie Hinds in the corner for a 3-pointer to take a 44-28 lead into the half.
The Mountaineers would extend their lead out of halftime with a 14-4 run within the first five minutes. Alcorn State didn’t have the firepower to respond. WVU’s lead would grow to as big as 35 points.
Redshirt freshman forward Kevin Noreen scored 12 points. Hinds and junior forward Deniz Kilicli had 10 points apiece. Freshman point guard Gary Browne had a career-high 12 rebounds.
Alcorn State was led in scoring by center Chris Brand and guard Marquis Baker, who both had 12 points.
WVU outscored Alcorn State 44 to 20 in the paint.