MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Kevin Jones scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Truck Bryant added 18 points to lead West Virginia to an 84-60 victory over Rutgers Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.
“We made some shots,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
Rutgers (10-8, 2-3) came into today’s game looking for back-to-back road wins for the first time since joining the Big East after routing Pitt Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. But West Virginia smothered the Scarlet Knights from the outset - just as it did it did 10 days ago when it beat them by 21 in Piscataway.
Today, the Mountaineers used a 20-3 run over a seven minute stretch in the first half to turn a five-point game into a 22-point lead with 5:32 remaining. West Virginia got its lead to 25 and then to 28 before settling for a 26-point halftime advantage.
“We took them out of what they wanted to do,” said Huggins. “We took them out of offense and then we did the same thing in the second half – we kind of let them do what they wanted to do and we really didn’t take anything away.”
Rutgers was able to whittle the deficit down to 16, 64-48, with 10:51 to go, but West Virginia used another 17-3 run to close out its 13th win of the season and its fourth in conference play.
The Mountaineers (13-5, 4-2) are presently in a three-way tie with Connecticut and Seton Hall for third place in the conference standings behind 5-0 Syracuse and 4-1 Cincinnati.
Deniz Kilicli also added 14 points and Jabarie Hinds contributed 11 for the Mountaineers, which have now won eight straight over Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights got 15 points off the bench from Myles Mack and 12 points and 13 rebounds from Dane Miller.
The two teams combined for 47 fouls (including three technical fouls) and 27 missed free throws in a sometimes sloppy game. Eighteen of those missed free throws were by a West Virginia team that came into today’s game last in the Big East in free throw shooting at 64.2 percent.
“Eighteen free throws … I just told (the players) that can’t continue for us to do what we want to do,” said Huggins.
West Virginia had a 45-36 advantage on the glass and forced 19 Rutgers turnovers. The Mountaineers ended the game with 13 turnovers.
“I would venture to say 10 of those were when we dribbled the ball,” said Huggins. “Ten of those were dribble the ball and try and make a play and we’re not good at that, which is fine. We really weren’t good at dribbling it when we went to the Final Four, but we passed it. We’ve got to get good at passing it.”
Freshman Keaton Miles gave West Virginia a strong performance with 6 points, four rebounds and seven assists. All six of his points came in the first half.
“Keaton has shot it well in practice and then he gets into a game and I don’t know if it’s nerves or what it is, but I thought he shot it with great confidence and Truck did a good job of finding him in the short corner,” said Huggins. “He needs to kind of step inside the 3 a little bit where he’s a little more comfortable and he will be fine.”
An announced crowd of 13,820 attended today’s game, including nearly a hundred former WVU players back on campus for reunion weekend.
The Mountaineers step outside of Big East play one final time this Wednesday to face Marshall in Charleston for the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic at the Charleston Civic Center.