Kevin Jones Chasing Mountaineer Legends - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Kevin Jones Chasing Mountaineer Legends

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MORGANTOWN -

Jerry West and "Hot Rod" Hundley are the only two players in West Virginia basketball history to have their numbers retired and displayed in the Coliseum.

On Wednesday night, perched high above the court from sections 44 and 33, the Mountaineer legends will have a perfect view of a current player who is continuing to etch his own legacy in the arena – Kevin Jones.

The Mountaineer senior has scored 20 or more points in each of the last nine games of the season. His active streak is second only to two players who ever wore the WVU uniform, and it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out which two he's chasing.

Both West and Hundley had streaks of 10-straight games with at least 20 points and when he faces Notre Dame at 9 p.m., Jones has the opportunity to join them.

"That's great company to be in, great names, they're both Hall of Famers here," Jones said Tuesday. "Just to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys is a great honor for me. Of course, I'm not going to force anything, I'll let the game come to me."

Letting the game come to him appears to be the biggest difference between Kevin Jones the senior and the player who took the court a year ago.

Raised expectations to be not only himself but also Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks had Jones pressing in his first year as "the guy" and the results weren't near as impressive as they've been through this campaign.

There was a fear after a three-game losing streak that the temptation to carry the team on his shoulders would send Jones back into the type of mentality that plagued him as a junior. Jones would never say explicitly that he needed help, but his remarks during the team's slump made it clear that he recognized he could not get the job done alone.

The numbers are great, leading the Big East in both points and rebounds is great, but the statistic Jones cares about is how many wins his contribution leads to for the team.

"You look at the guy's got 26 and 14 and it all comes out of the flow. He's not selfish, he's not self-centered, he just wants to win," WVU head coach Bob Huggins says. "There's been games where the other guys have played pretty well and he's got his 14 and 10 and was very happy and very content with it. He just wants to win."

Truck Bryant, West Virginia's second-leading scorer, knows how difficult it is to post 20 points on a consistent basis. As a shooter, he has seen nights when everything falls and others when it seems as though the measurements of the rim shrunk from what they were pregame.

"It's hard, especially in the Big East. Every team knows what you're going to do, every team scouts, watches tapes, so it's rough to score 20 on some nights and sometimes it's easy when you get hot," says Bryant.

So what does it say about Jones that he's been able to do it in nine-straight conference games?

"That's just dominating," says Bryant. "That right there is just plain dominating. He's just been doing a great job getting the ball in places he score, we've been finding him and he's just been making shots also."

Huggins uses some statistics to help explain what Jones has been able to do offensively. For the season, Jones has taken 377 shots, 105 of which Huggins says were from offensive rebounds rather than shots taken through running the offense.

The head coach thinks that for Jones, the scoring all comes back to those hands of his when it comes to pulling in boards. 

He's the only player in the Big East averaging over 20 points for the season. No other player in the league has over 11 rebounds per game. His average of 4.4 offensive rebounds per game is second in the entire nation.

Jones will find his points and he will find his rebounds. He's continued to prove himself worthy of early hype for conference player of the year through 24 games with just seven remaining in the regular season.

As much as those watching him may be growing to truly appreciate what he's accomplishing in his final season in Morgantown, Jones has no intention of listening to the praise or examining the numbers until he's finished.

"I don't want to understand it right now. I want to understand it when the season's over," says Jones. "Right now I'm just focused on doing what I have to do for my team to win. If that means me going out, trying to get a double-double every night, then that's what it takes."

If Jones can get 20 points against the Fighting Irish, he will stand in elite company alongside West and Hundley.

But for a player in his senior season, counting down the games until he no longer suits up for the Mountaineers, he's more interested in 17 – as in 17 wins, a number he can help West Virginia reach by continuing his spectacular run.  

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