The Associated Press
Kevin Jones didn’t have to carry the load Saturday night against Miami.
West Virginia’s leading scorer, who came in averaging 21.3 points per game, finished with only 12.
No problem, said the guy who scored 30 Thursday night against Kansas State. He had Darryl “Truck” Bryant and Deniz Kilicli helping out as West Virginia beat Miami 77-66 for its second straight nonconference victory.
“‘Truck’ has been big for us during the past two games,” Jones said. “He’s playing at a real high level and I know that he’s going to keep on playing like that. When you’ve got him in a zone like that and you’ve got Deniz Kilicli down low and he’s dominating the paint like that, it’s going to be real hard to get a win against us.”
Bryant scored a career-best 27 points and West Virginia’s defense put the clamps on Miami.
“I’ve been feeling good ever since last game,” said Bryant. “I just needed one good game to put me where I need to be and I had it, so now I’m in a groove and I feel like I can’t be stopped right now.
“I don’t want that to be my career high. I want to keep going higher and I want to keep winning, most importantly. My teammates did a great job finding me. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
For West Virginia (6-2) it was the second straight victory in about 48 hours after upsetting previously undefeated Kansas State in double overtime Thursday night. Miami (5-4) lost for the fourth time in its last five contests. The Hurricanes started the season 4-0.
Bryant, a senior, was 9 of 12 from the field and 5 of 7 from the 3-point line to eclipse his 24-point performance against the Wildcats. His five made shots from long range also were a personal high.
Kilicli finished with18 points and Jones had 12.
Miami’s Malcolm Grant had 17, including 11 in the first half, and Kenny Kadji and Garrius Adams scored 15 points apiece.
The Hurricanes owned a 37-35 first-half lead as both teams shot 50 percent from the field. The edge belonged to the visitors because they made 6 of 12 triples in the first 20 minutes.
But after intermission, West Virginia stifled the Hurricanes, who continually came up with empty possessions as Bryant and the Mountaineers pushed the lead.
“We guarded a lot better, and I thought our energy was a lot better in the second half,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “We changed how we guarded the ball screen, which I think slowed them down coming off the ball screen a little bit, and we made some shots. ‘Truck’ made some shots and everybody looks better when the ball goes in.”
In fact, Miami’s first field goal came with 11:01 left in the game. By then, West Virginia had the tussle in hand.
Trailing by a basket, the Mountaineers began the second half with an 8-0 run for a 43-37 lead with 17:26 left. Bryant and Kilicli scored all 12 points as West Virginia assumed a 51-39 lead with 14:56 to go.
Miami went seven consecutive possessions without scoring a field goal. The Hurricanes’ three free throws at the time were not enough against a soaring West Virginia team, which had outscored Miami 25-3 by the 11:27 mark. Freshman Aaron Brown’s 3-pointer at that juncture gave the Mountaineers their largest lead, 60-40.
West Virginia shot 54 percent (27 of 50) from the floor, 40 percent from long range (8 of 20) and 83.3 percent from the foul line (15 of 18). After hitting half of their 30 first-half shots, the Hurricanes made just 36 percent from the field (9 of 25) and 27.3 (3 of 11) from 3-point range in the second half.
Miami outrebounded West Virginia 15-14 in the first half, but like the defense, the board work picked up for the home team. It out-caromed the Hurricanes 33-26 for the game.
Jones led all rebounders with nine. Kilicli had the second most rebounds with eight.