Kilicli Active in Sweeping Texas - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Kilicli Active in Sweeping Texas


Bob Huggins stepped a few feet from the bench to greet his center. He clapped, he extended his arm and he gave the big man a high five and a hug.

Deniz Kilicli had strung together another performance worthy of praise and his head coach couldn't wait for the game to end before he acknowledged it.

"I think he was terrific and so much more active," Huggins said after West Virginia came away with a 60-58 win over Texas.

"He does a great job of sealing people and we don't do a great job of getting him the ball," Huggins continued. "I think the last two games were the best two all-around games that Deniz has played."

Kilicli finished the game 6-of-8 from the field with 14 points while adding four rebounds and two assists. He was a cornerstone of what the Mountaineers tried to do offensively from the start of the game until the final seconds ran off the clock, but he wasn't ready to claim that he's turned over a new leaf when the game was over.

"It's just luck. It's going in," Kilicli said of his shots.

The good luck that Kilicli had on his side Monday night must have been bad luck earlier in the season when many of the same shots were not falling. When what had become the senior's most important contribution was no longer effective, his entire game suffered.

Huggins has simply asked him to up the intensity and continue to be active and against the Longhorns, it paid off.

"He has had a lot of energy," Huggins said. "He was terrific in practice yesterday. He actually dove out of bounds, which you don't see Deniz doing a lot."

When he held his "Chalk Talk" with the WVU students on Monday afternoon, Huggins explained how he intended to use Kilicli in that night's game and that he believed he was a good matchup with the Longhorns in the post. It was clear from the start of the game that the plan was to get him involved and engaged with the Texas big men.

"When they play zone, they play like Syracuse," Kilicli said, recounting his three years in the Big East. "They don't let the ball go to the corners, so it lets me iso with their bigs, which they are young, so they've got three years of intense lifting to catch up to me."

Battling inside against those players who lack the physicality that he brings, Kilicli was sent to the line for five foul shots and consistently got his hook to fall at a rate he hadn't done recently.

"I love his little runner and you know what he's going to do with it," Texas head coach Rick Barnes said. "He fights hard for his position and moving his feet. They are extremely well coached in getting him the ball when he's open."

Barnes points out what his teammates would like to be able to do every night, so long as Kilicli is producing when they get him the ball.

"I think when Deniz plays well, the whole team plays well," said freshman Eron Harris. "We've been waiting the whole season for him to step up and play how we know he can play and when he gets to his full potential this season, we're going to be a great team."

Even in his slumps, Huggins has always been quick to point out that he enjoys having Kilicli on his team. The person he is, the way he attacks his responsibilities and tries to grow from his failures – there are characteristics in his most experienced player that make him one of the coach's favorite students.

"If you ask me what's Deniz's attributes, it's he's a really good person," Huggins said. "He's a great guy. Everybody likes him. He could probably be student body president if he wanted to be. He's like the Mayor of the Mountainlair."

So Huggins found his Mayor and let him know that he appreciated the game he put together.

"He gave me a high five. I don't know, man, I guess I did good," Kilicli said. "He doesn't do it much, you know. This year, especially. We don't get those much, but I think I did something good. I'll see it on the film."

What he will see will not be perfect, but it will be evidence of a second-straight strong showing that has pushed the Mountaineers to their first winning streak since before conference play began.

Kilicli will be a major part of extending that streak.

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