Staten's Basket Lifts WVU Over Tech
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Juwan Staten’s driving layup with five seconds left gave West Virginia a 68-67 victory over Virginia Tech in an exciting, down-to-the-wire, ACC-Big 12 matchup at the WVU Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
It was Staten’s only field goal of the game. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said Staten’s game-winning basket was aided by the space Deniz Kilicli was able to create inside.
“I put Deniz back in the game because Deniz occupies people,” explained Huggins. “Everybody is so afraid of Deniz catching it close, so I wanted him away from Wanny’s throwing hand where they’d be afraid to leave him and we could kick it into him. That kind of opened things up, and we’ve been on Wanny to get the ball to the basket more and with his speed and his ability to get to the rim, we need him to do it more often.”
Staten’s basket followed a bank-shot 3 by Tech’s Robert Brown with 18 seconds left to put the Hokies ahead 67-66. On Virginia Tech’s final possession, following a timeout by Coach James Johnson, Erick Green got a good look at a game-winner but his 16-footer from the left wing hit the front of the rim and bounced out at the buzzer.
West Virginia (4-3) built a 12-point first half advantage at 29-17 after a Keaton Miles layup, but Tech closed out the half with a 9-3 run to reduce the Mountaineers’ lead to six at halftime, 30-24.
The Hokies started the second half strong, taking a 34-33 lead on a Brown layup and then expanded their margin to 40-36, on a pair of Green free throws. Later, Tech got it to five, 46-41, with 10:40 left on a Green jumper.
Gary Browne responded with a big 3 from the top of the key and Kevin Noreen answered Cadarian Raines’ basket with a huge 3 from the wing, his second of the game, cutting Virginia Tech’s lead to one, 48-47.
Once again, the Hokies got back-to-back baskets to extend their lead to five, 52-47, with 8:52 left, but once again, West Virginia used the 3-ball to stay in it when Miles came through from the corner.
At that point freshman Eron Harris took over for a four-minute stretch, hitting two 3s and converting a pair of critical free throws. He also grabbed a pair of important defensive rebounds to finish the game with 10 points and five boards.
“He’s got toughness,” said Huggins of Harris. “In my 31 years there are not many substitutes for toughness and he’s not afraid. I look out there and we’re playing a pretty good team and we’ve got two freshmen out there playing for a good portion of the second half.”
Noreen also gave West Virginia terrific boost off the bench by contributing a career-high 14 points to go with 12 rebounds.
“What can you say about Kevin Noreen,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “For all those kids out there who want to be basketball players there is living proof if you work at it hard enough and you put your heart in it then you can be a good player.”
Aaric Murray led all Mountaineer players with 15, hitting 6 of his 10 field goal attempts. Besides Noreen and Harris, the rest of the team wasn’t so accurate, West Virginia shooting just 35.3 percent for the game.
“Aaric Murray gave us some big minutes down the stretch,” said Huggins. “He kind of went to sleep and I got him out and then he came back in and did a pretty good job at the offensive end.”
Green and Brown got most of the offense for Tech, now 7-1 on the season. Green scored 23 on 8-of-19 shooting while Brown added 21 on 9-of-19 shooting. For the game, the Hokies hit 5-of-18 from behind the arc after coming into today’s contest averaging eight 3s per game.
On the other side, West Virginia was 10-of-24 from behind the arc, getting half of its season total of 20 coming into today’s game. Murray, Harris and Noreen made two each, while Jabarie Hinds, Aaron Brown and Gary Browne also knocked down 3s.
“I told them we can’t continue to let them stand underneath the basket and not guard us,” said Huggins. “If you are open you’ve got to step into shots and make them and get them over the rim. Thank goodness they did.”
West Virginia’s bench outscored Virginia Tech’s 36-4 to offset the Hokies’ 34-22 scoring margin in the paint.
The Mountaineers once again controlled the glass with a 49-38 advantage.
“They’ve got good players and they make shots,” said Huggins of Virginia Tech.
West Virginia returns to action next Tuesday night in Pittsburgh facing Duquesne at Consol Energy Center. The Dukes play New Orleans later this evening.
West Virginia University Mountaineers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Big 12 men's basketball, ACC men's basketball
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