Men's Basketball: Kilicli Powers West Virginia
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Freshman forward Deniz Kilicli’s 18 points powered West Virginia past the University of Charleston 81-48 in an exhibition contest on Saturday evening at the WVU Coliseum.
Kilicli made the most of his second exhibition appearance, going 8 of 12 from the field in a team-leading 28 minutes. The Istanbul, Turkey native also played in West Virginia’s 104-82 exhibition win over Mountain State on Nov. 8, scoring eight points and grabbing six boards in 19 minutes.
The transfer from Mountain State academy will be eligible to compete in regular-season action on Feb. 3 in West Virginia’s home matchup against rival Pitt.
“Today was so emotional for me,” Kilicli said following the game. “It’s good to feel like a West Virginia basketball player. I can’t wait for my 15 games.”
Kilicli has given West Virginia fans plenty to be excited about, emerging as a strong yet skilled post player who can make plays with his back to the basket or with his face-up jump shot. The talented 6-foot-9 athlete is pleased with his progression so far, but believes he still has work to do in order to stay in shape by his first regular-season game.
“I know the game and I know the plays,” Kilicli mentioned. “It’s much easier than the first game, but still, I’m struggling. It’s not enough. Coach Huggins has a different type of playing style.”
The talented forward was just thankful to play after not traveling with WVU to Anaheim, Calif., where the Mountaineers captured the 76 Classic championship. Kilicli admits that he had plenty of difficulty watching those games despite the fact that West Virginia was victorious in the end.
“It was hard to watch the games on television,” Kilicli said. “The first game I tried, and I couldn’t do it, so I just quit and watched it on the internet.
“I have always competed all my life, playing basketball for 12 or 13 years. It’s hard for me to stay back and watch the games like a fan. If I’m on the bench then okay, but watching it on television kills me.”
Kilicli was one of many contributors tonight, as sophomore Kevin Jones added 14 points and seven rebounds. Reigning Big East Player of the Week Da’Sean Butler poured in 11 points in 20 minutes, and Jonnie West hit a flurry of baskets late in the game to chip in with 10.
Altogether, 15 Mountaineers saw time on the floor. Their combined effort led to a 53.6 shooting percentage while outrebounding Charleston, 45-26.
West Virginia used a variety of lineups in taking a 38-22 halftime lead. The Mountaineers shot 56 percent and fed the ball to Kilicli often, who led WVU with nine points on 4 of 4 shooting in 13 minutes.
Jones continued his stretch of good play in the first half, adding eight points and four rebounds. Devin Ebanks, who started for the first time this year, also pulled down four boards in 14 minutes.
The exhibition gave West Virginia an opportunity to experiment with an assortment of zone defenses. Altogether, the unit forced Charleston to move around the ball quickly, and the Golden Eagles responded by shooting a respectable 38.8 percent throughout the game.
With Kilicli and a host of other post players manning the paint, West Virginia was able to outperform the Golden Eagles in second chance points (23-2), points in the paint (40-16) and offensive rebounds (19-9).
West Virginia returns with a home matchup against Atlantic-10 rival Duquesne on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.