Thoroughman, Flowers lead WVU to victory
MORGANTOWN - Bob Huggins, after more than three decades as a head or assistant college basketball coach, said his current team "does things that I've never seen before."
He usually means that somewhat wryly and derisively.
On Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum, the veteran coach saw some things no one had seen before from his team -- but in a very positive fashion the coach had to appreciate.
Getting a career scoring high from senior Cam Thoroughman and a career rebounding best from senior John Flowers, West Virginia outlasted a gritty Cleveland State, 74-63, before a crowd of 11,235.
In reducing the number of unbeatens in major college basketball, WVU took what the Vikings (12-1) gave them. Thoroughman, the graduate student from Portsmouth, Ohio, led a bunch off the bench that made a difference for WVU (8-2).
After playing a career-high 34 minutes in a nailbiter win over Duquesne last Sunday, Throughman played 33 minutes -- including the entire second half. He not only scored nine points -- his high in a WVU uniform -- but also had a career-high seven assists, and matched a personal season best with six rebounds.
He also didn't have any of WVU's 10 turnovers (matching the Mountaineers' best this season) - a statistic Huggins said was key to putting away the Horizon League visitors.
"After being here four years, I think I know what I'm doing most of the time," the 6-foot-7 Thoroughman said. "And here lately I'm doing the right things, I guess, so I keep playing.
"As long as I keep doing the right things, I guess I'll still be playing."
Vikings Coach Gary Waters said his team pretty much left Thoroughman alone, so it could double or shade fellow big man Kevin Jones. CSU paid for that, Waters admitted.
"Cam is smart enough to pass it and ball screen and do the right things," huggins said. "I tried to explain it to some guys at halftime; there's a reason they don't guard you - they want you to shoot. They guard the guys they don't want to shoot."
Flowers' double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds was more than just a lift for WVU, which was looking for some offensive continuity. Jones, after a two-point first half, also finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"We rebounded the ball a lot better (a 40-30 advantage), but we could have defended better," Flowers said. "What we did best was share the ball. I honestly think this is the first time we played as a complete team."
It was tied at 55 with 8:28 remaining -- after CSU guard Norris Cole hit a 3-pointer for the last of his game-high 19 points -- when West Virginia got a 3-pointer from Casey Mitchell (15 points) from the wing. On the next WVU possession, Joe Mazzulla had a shot blocked, and Thoroughman took the ball into the key and although open, eschewed a shot attempt and got the ball to Jones.
He hit a three from the left wing just before the shot-clock buzzer. WVU followed with a three-point play by jones as he followed his own shot for a hoop and free throw with 5:46 left.
"It went from being a four- or six-point game," Waters said. "They hit a couple of threes down the stretch. That didn't have a lot to do with them; it had a lot to do with us. They score two 3s on two possessions. Game's over."
WVU plays only a Wednesday night exhibition game at home against Walsh (Ohio) -- Huggins' first head coaching stop -- before opening Big East Conference play here on Dec. 29 against St. John's.