The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

January 13, 2012

WVU hopes to bounce back Saturday

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia men’s basketball team, smarting from the 64-57 loss at Connecticut, hopes to bounce back against Rutgers at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Coliseum.

The Big East rematch is a “Bargain Day” special. Four tickets cost a total of $60 and will include a package of food and drinks.

“I think we’re about where we thought we’d be now,” coach Bob Huggins said. The Mountaineers are 12-5 overall and 3-2 in the conference.

Rutgers dropped an 85-64 decision to WVU last week at home. But the Scarlet Knights (10-7, 2-2 Big East) crushed Pitt 62-39 in Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

Kevin Jones and Darryl “Truck” Bryant continue to lead the Mountaineers in scoring. Both are outstanding seniors.

Jones, a 6-foot-8 forward, is averaging 19.9 points per game. He also has a team-best 11.5 rebounding average, 19 blocked shots and 16 steals.

Bryant, a 6-foot-2 guard, is producing points at a 17.8 clip. But he tallied a season-low of just eight points against Connecticut. It was the only time he failed to hit 10 or more this year.

He also has 44 rebounds (2.6 average), 48 assist, 20 steals and two blocks.

WVU’s only other scorer averaging double digits is Deniz Kilicli, a 6-foot-9 junior, who’s averaging 10.9. He also is the second-leading rebounder with 5.5 per game.

Both Bryant and Kilicli get into early foul trouble at times, though. As a result, that cuts into their playing time.

West Virginia could benefit from a third scorer approaching the high figures K.J. and Truck maintain. But neither knows whether one of the younger players is yet capable of filling that role.

Jabarie Hinds, a 5-foot-11 freshmen guard, has had occasional high-scoring games. But he lacks consistency as he continues to learn the system.

Hinds is averaging 7.8 ppg. He has started all 17 games and leads the team in assists with 64.

“Watching K.J. and Truck work as hard as they do has helped some of the younger guys,” Huggins said.

Jones noted, “We not only get help from different guys in scoring but also in rebounding. That is helping us get better as a team.” 

Bryant isn’t surprised that Jones has played so well this season, and Jones isn’t surprised that Bryant’s production also is at a high pitch.

Huggins considers Jones as one of the best all-around performers he has had in his 30 years as a collegiate coaching career.

“K.J. plays to win, and he’s not selfish,” he commented. “He’s just a really good player.

“He works hard and long.

“Truck was really good in the victory over (No. 9- ranked) Georgetown. But he forced his shots against Connecticut.

“When he lets the game come to him, he plays very well.”

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