Noreen's Career Outing No Sweat for Big Sweat - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Noreen's Career Outing No Sweat for Big Sweat

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia found its hero in the unlikeliest of places to knock off Virginia Tech.

In the most significant action of his career, Kevin Noreen rewarded his coaches' faith by putting in numbers that to this point in his three years had never been seen.

Career-highs in minutes, points, shot attempts and makes, rebounds, blocked shots and surprisingly wet 3-pointers told much of the story in the 68-67 win as Noreen's play energized the building.

Drenched the way a man with the nickname "Big Sweat" should be, Noreen entered the postgame interviews as the hot commodity after his performance against the Hokies.

"This is probably my best game of my college career by far," Noreen said. "It was just one of those days. Going into it, Coach [Bob Huggins] was saying we need this win. This was supposed to be our springboard for the rest of the season. This was a make or break game for us and, I don't know, I must have taken that intrinsically and translated it onto the court."

He wasted little time in seizing his opportunity, with the first of his 12 rebounds and a blocked shot within the initial two minutes that he played. With eight boards on the offensive glass, Noreen kept possessions alive and allowed the Mountaineers to hang with a team that ranked third nationally in scoring offense.

But it was when Noreen began making baskets of his own that the crowd really began to embrace just how strong of a showing he was putting on and their response was fitting to what the sophomore gave them on the court.

With six points at the half, it was clear Noreen was onto something. But when he brought the 3-point shot out of his arsenal and nailed his first two attempts in the second half, it seemed as though he could do no wrong.

"I get on him for not doing things like not shooting the ball. You can't imagine how many shots the kid takes [in practice]," Huggins said after the game.

While they were just the second, third and fourth 3-pointers of Noreen's career in college, they were nothing new to the 6-foot-10 forward. As Minnesota's all-time high school scoring leader, the sight of the ball falling through the net had become old hat. It was just the first time he put it all together like this at the collegiate level.

"Not many people know this, [but] I'm the third career all-time 3-point makes in Minnesota," Noreen says, flashing back to his days in Minneapolis. "It's in my pedigree, I just finally brought it out."

His teammates have been waiting for him to bring it out because they've seen it so often in practice. When he gets on a run, the bench goes wild.

"I think it does more for my team than it does for myself," Noreen said of his strong play early. "If you notice, I made a couple of those shots and you see the bench go crazy and that's what we want. It gets everybody else involved and we're back in the game and it gets the bench alive and the guys on the floor are more enthusiastic."

Huggins says that in his entire career, he may never have had a player who puts in more time on his own in order to perfect his game. He recalls a time when he was recruiting Noreen that the high school kid asked him if he could really play at WVU. Huggins said then that it was completely up to him and if he put in the work necessary to succeed, he would.

That extra work has not been lost on the other players who step on the practice court with Noreen each day.

"Noreen, he's not the most talented guy, but he is the hardest worker on our team by far," freshman guard Eron Harris said. "Everybody tries to reach him as far as working hard and when you see him doing well and you know it's because he works hard, so we all feed off of that."

Harris says that his own three in the second half was made possible by the confidence he got from watching Noreen sink his own shots. He says the same about the play center Aaric Murray put together. When Noreen is on, the rest of the Mountaineers say it is more like what they've grown accustomed to from the big man.

"Maybe to the rest of the world, it's not expected, but to us, that's expected," said Murray. "Sweat works hard. I'm talking about he works hard. All we need is for him to get his confidence to let it go and just play and you see what happens. Hard works pays off and he works the hardest."

The crowd acknowledged it. Chants of "Kevin Noreen" rang down from the student section at various points throughout the game. He says he noticed it and it was a new feeling in his third year. Now, the onus is on Noreen to keep it up as the season wears on.

"I'm just so happy that I was able to help out the team," Noreen said. "I pretty much go into every practice saying I don't want to let other guys down. That's really my mindset when I play. Hopefully I can continue this."

The Mountaineers could be a decidedly different team if he can.

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