For the second-straight outing, the Mountaineers opened up an early double digit lead and cruised from there, going on to crush a struggling Morehead State team in this “neutral” site game .
And for the second-straight night, it was forward Kevin Jones who led his team to victory. Jones hit his first five shots from the field to score 12 of WVU’s first 30 points. By the time he punctuated that quick start with a 3-pointer, the Mountaineers led 30-11.
They were never seriously threatened thereafter. Morehead State would never draw within fewer than 13 points, and the hosts turned a 17-point halftime lead into an absolute rout with a 20-6 run to start the second half.
It was another stellar game from Jones, who has started his senior season as well as Huggins could have hoped.
The do-it-all forward registered his third-straight double-double, with 23 points and 10 rebounds. It was the Mount Vernon, N.Y., native’s 15th career double-double. It was also his third 20-point effort of the young season; he only had reached that scoring mark four times in his first three seasons as a Mountaineer.
Player of the Game
“He rebounds the ball. K.J. is a tremendous rebounder,” teammate Truck Bryant said. “He just finds a way. He has a knack for the ball, and that 20 points, that’s K.J. When he starts making shots, he’s dangerous. He just had a great overall game today.”
West Virginia (3-1) again dominated on the glass. It held a 25-14 rebounding advantage at halftime, including 10 offensive boards. It turned those extra opportunities into a 12-0 edge in second-chance points during the first half, and it won that battle 18-3 overall.
That helped offset what was an atrocious effort at the free throw line, where the Mountaineers were again deficient. WVU made only nine of 21 foul shots in the first half (42.9 percent), helping keep the contest in doubt a bit longer than it may have been otherwise.
West Virginia did rally with a perfect 10-of-10 performance from the line in the second half, making its total a slightly more respectable -- but still far from ideal -- 61.3 percent.
“We don’t have anybody shooting in practice less than 73 percent,” Huggins said. “I mean, Gary Browne is shooting in the high 80s in practice. It’s just, you know, it’s kind of like getting the measles. It just spreads. Some guy goes up there and clanks one, and the next guy gets up there and all of a sudden it’s in the back of your mind.”
But beyond that, this may have been Huggins’ team’s most complete effort of the season thus far. It forced 12 first half turnovers, turning them into a 12-2 edge in points off turnovers. Its bench outscored that of the Eagles 14-4 in the first half and 28-14 overall.
“I think they recognized a little bit better what we’re trying to do,” the head coach said of his young players.
For Morehead State (1-3), Terence Hill scored 24 points to lead all scorers. He was 6-of-11 from 3-point range. But no other Eagles were in double figures.
Beyond Jones’ stellar performance, West Virginia also got strong outings from Bryant (14 points and four assists) and Deniz Kilicli (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists). Kilicli has been in double figures in every game this season after not having more than two consecutive games with 10 or more points during his first two seasons.
After easy wins over Alcorn State and Morehead State, WVU jumps right back into what is a brutal non-conference schedule, as it will face an Akron team that is favored to win the Mid-American Conference -- and already defeated a highly-regarded Mississippi State team -- on Monday.
“We’ve got to bring it,” Bryant said. “We know we’ve got to bring it.”