Bryant Maintains Confidence, Leads WVU Comeback - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Bryant Maintains Confidence, Leads WVU Comeback


Truck Bryant has proven to be the most polarizing figure on the court for West Virginia this season.

As much as he impressed early in the season, he has had some efforts where he simply stunk up the gym, too. On Sunday, he gave his fans a little of both.

In a first half that featured eight points, but on 2-of-8 shooting, Bryant seemed poised for another long afternoon as Providence showed the WVU senior what it looked like to score.

But if you know anything about Bryant, know this: He is confident in himself even when you are not.

When he scored his 1,000th point last season, his teammate, Joe Mazzulla, joked that it took him a couple thousand shots to get it. The joke, though, shows that Bryant will continue to play the game his coach asks of him even when things aren't looking too positive.

After his 14-point effort against Pittsburgh, Bryant showed just how much it hurt in a postgame interview, but vowed to work with fellow senior Kevin Jones to get his team in order and rebound to end a three-game losing streak.

So with his team trailing on the road to a team at the bottom of the Big East, Bryant put that confidence to use.

He came out of the locker room and scored the 13 of the Mountaineers' first 15 points, pulling them back to within two with 13:33 remaining.

As the Friars adjusted to Bryant's scoring, Jones and Deniz Kilicli began finding room inside to add some points of their own.

There was no doubt, though, that when WVU faced a two-point deficit with 11 seconds remaining, Bryant would have the ball in his hands. Even if that isn't the way Bob Huggins drew it up, there is no way Bryant wouldn't have dribbled the ball up the court on his own and made even effort to send the game to overtime.

Anyone who has seen him play throughout his four-year career knows that Bryant could have gone out of control down the lane looking to draw a foul and come up empty or he could have stopped short and taken an early three.

Not this time.

Bryant dribbled easily between defenders as they converged in an attempt to end the game in regulation, but the senior wouldn't have it. Off the glass and in, he gave the road team new life and a fifth chance at an overtime victory this season.

In those extra five minutes, Bryant took just one shot. It just so happened to be the 3-pointer that unsheathed a dagger and stabbed it directly into the Friars as WVU pulled out the 87-84 overtime win.

It was the first time since a Jan. 4 win over Rutgers that Bryant shot 50 percent or better in a game. For the season, he averages 37 percent from the field.

Whatever he and Jones may have said in a planned players-only meeting this week, it clearly was directed at the veterans as much as the freshmen. Bryant's turn around was as evident as anyone's and overshadowed a stellar game from junior forward Deniz Kilicli.

It was as though his entire season of highs and lows were summed up in one game, plus overtime.

Beating a 13-11 Providence team is by no means a sign that the Mountaineers have turned a corner and are back to the squad that was sitting toward the top of the league standings just two weeks ago, but it's a start.

For Bryant, it was a refresher course on just what sort of difference he can make if he is having success, a difference that his team needs consistently, not just one Super Bowl Sunday in the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

He played all 45 minutes in this one and averages over 36 per game this season. If the Mountaineers are to go on a run and take a spot in the NCAA Tournament, he must make the most of every single one of those minutes on the court.

For some portion of Sunday, Bryant would find himself on a list of Twitter's trending topics. He was there for the right reasons, a point of conversation from fans applauding his role in stopping what looked destined to become a four-game skid.

Now it's on Bryant to provide the encore.

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