MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Deniz Kilicli scored 19 points and Juwan Staten added 16 points and six assists to help West Virginia to a 95-53 exhibition victory over Glenville State Tuesday night at the WVU Coliseum.
This was the Mountaineers’ final tune-up before facing 21st-ranked Gonzaga on Monday night in Spokane in ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-off Marathon that will feature 11 games in 24 hours. The West Virginia-Gonzaga game will start things off at 11:59 p.m.
“We didn’t come close to playing as hard as I thought we would,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “We don’t get the loose balls and it looks like we’re going to be one of those teams again where the games are going to be close.”
Tonight’s contest was never in doubt with the Mountaineers building a 48-22 lead at halftime on the way to a 42-point victory, but West Virginia struggled shooting the basketball (1 of 14 from 3-point range) and turned the ball over 13 times, including seven from returning guards Gary Browne and Jabarie Hinds.
“We don’t value the basketball the way we need to,” said Huggins.
Behind the arc, Boston College transfer Matt Humphrey was 0 for 4, while Hinds and Browne missed both of their 3-point tries. West Virginia’s only triple came from forward Keaton Miles.
Also, the Mountaineers out-rebounded the much smaller Pioneers by just a 46-34 margin.
“We should have rebounded because we are bigger and stronger than them,” Huggins said.
On the plus side, WVU got 13 points and nine rebounds from La Salle transfer Aaric Murray, while freshman Volodymyr Gerun contributed 12 points and three rebounds in 12 minutes coming off the bench. Gerun must sit out the first six games of the season to satisfy NCAA eligibility requirements and will not be available for Monday’s game against the Bulldogs.
Twelve different players scored tonight. Huggins used a starting lineup consisting of Kilicli, Miles and Murray up front with Staten and Hinds in the backcourt.
Huggins singled out the play of Staten at point guard and the return of a healthy Kevin Noreen in the paint where he contributed eight points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal. The Mountaineers struggled last year after Noreen went down with a broken ankle against Pitt on Jan. 30.
“I thought Kevin Noreen was very, very good,” said Huggins. “He’s right now in my mind our second-best big. We’ve got other guys who will give us some effort for a little while and then they’re done. I need about seven or eight guys that I can depend on.”
“Now I’ve given them a chance (to take shots) and now we’re going to tighten it up a little bit,” said Huggins. “We’re not going to throw the ball around and we’re going to attempt to run some offense.”
Overall, Huggins said his team will eventually get better.
“It’s early and we’re going to be a good team because we’ve got some good guys who want to do the right thing,” he said.
The Mountaineers will get a better idea of where they are next Monday night at Gonzaga. West Virginia lost by 23 points to Bulldogs in an NCAA tournament game in Pittsburgh last March and the Zags have four starters returning from that team.
“If you don’t find out where you are then things kind of get masked and when you really have to play you end up getting smacked in the mouth,” said Huggins. “Why not go out there and find out where we are and find out what we need to work on?”
The Mountaineers will depart for Spokane on Saturday. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.