From Ugly to Thrilling, WVU Gains Confidence in Win - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

From Ugly to Thrilling, WVU Gains Confidence in Win


Maybe the Mountaineers knew they would start out their meeting with Kansas State in such a poor fashion. Maybe the hours-long flight delay led to a hangover. Or maybe they just hadn't been playing well lately.

"We really sucked at practice, too, the last couple days," Deniz Kilicli said after the game. "I was really nervous coming into the game, but everybody clicked. We still had lots of things to work on, but we're going to make it. We're going to work on it and the team is growing, so we'll be fine."

Thursday night's 85-80 double overtime win was a perfect example of the team's growth. It had to be difficult for Bob Huggins to watch at times, but the end result is all that matters.

Ugly is a word that comes to mind. A battle of missed free throws set the tone in terms of scoring or lack thereof. Turnovers, many of the unforced variety, left the Mountaineers missing out on chances to quiet the purple crowd.

"When you have nine freshmen, that's what happens," says Kilicli. "It's going to be ugly, as you say, because you're not going to win anything by experience, you're not going to win because you're stronger than people, you're not going to win because you're more in shape than people."

As bad as WVU was at the line, connecting on just 18-of-31 free throws, Kansas State was just as inept with only 14-of-26 falling through the hoop. In a game that featured 55 personal fouls, either team could have jumped on the other's mistakes, but neither did.

There were times throughout the 40 minutes of regulation that West Virginia appeared to just be throwing the ball to the Wildcats. It wasn't as though Kansas State's defenders were getting in lanes so much as the Mountaineers handing it over.

Martin's team was able to capitalize with 21 points off 18 WVU turnovers. Still, neither team could distance itself from the other.

A young team could have spiraled out of control with the mistakes the Mountaineers were making, but somehow this one didn't. It fought back behind the strong play of senior Kevin Jones and put together a run over the final minutes to force overtime and ultimately get the win.

"We knew from the beginning that we were going to win this game," says freshman guard Aaron Brown. "We had a few players get in foul trouble and they start to get down, but we picked them up, everyone was into it, so that got us a win."

Brown was one of few freshmen who showed up for WVU from the moment he stepped onto the court. With 10 points in 23 minutes, he was able to give the Mountaineers a boost that starting forward Keaton Miles couldn't deliver.

His three-point shot with time running down in the first overtime could have been a game-winner if Truck Bryant had been able to connect on both free throws on their next possession.

But Bryant continued a trend for the Mountaineers and a disturbing trend for himself that has plagued his season thus far.

"I think we're just thinking too much, honestly," says Bryant. "We've just got to step up there and knock them in. Concentrate. I've been missing more free throws than I ever miss. I've just got to focus at the line."

At some point, the mistakes need to disappear earlier in the contest and stay away. Perhaps this latest victory will serve as a springboard and the boost of confidence the Mountaineers need to push them moving forward.

Huggins, for one, needs that to be the case.

"My patience is done," he said after the win. "I have no more patience for the rest of the year. I've spent it all. You saw today I wasn't very patient. I'm not going to be very patient. They need to do right."

Overcoming so much wrong may be the first step to doing right.

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