WVU basketball: Jones pushes WVU past Rutgers, 84-60
MORGANTOWN -- Senior Kevin Jones has done a lot of things in his four seasons at West Virginia, but he managed a first Saturday against Rutgers.
The Big East Conference's leading scorer managed a third consecutive 20-point game for the first time in his career as his 24 points helped the Mountaineer hammer Rutgers for the second time in 10 days, 84-60.
Jones was 9-for-19 from the floor and the league's leading rebounded added 14 more for his Big East-best 12th double-double in 18 games.
"K.J. is, in my opinion, to this point the best player in the league," Coach Bob Huggins said.
Jones had four points in the first 13 minutes of the game, but went into halftime with 11 and then helped WVU get out of a rut early in the second half.
"My teammates found me," Jones said. "I told them any time they get a steal or a rebound to look up the floor because I'm going to be running regardless. You've got to keep doing that and keep faith in your teammates to find you and let the game come to you. I didn't force anything. We had other people scoring and didn't have to do as much as I did in the second half."
Truck Bryant scored 18 points with 15 coming in the first half - and at one juncture both Bryant and the Scarlet Knights had 15 points. Deniz Kilicli made 4 of 5 shots and scored 14 points and freshman Jabarie Hinds added 11 points.
Freshman Keaton Miles had by far his best game. He was 3-for-4 from the floor and finished with six points, four rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers in 29 minutes. He had more points (four), baskets (two) and assists (two) against Rutgers than he did in WVU's first five Big East games.
"We're good when we have a couple other people helping us out," Kilicli said.
WVU (13-5, 4-2 Big East) won for the eighth straight time in the series and is 18-7 against Rutgers since joining the Big East in 1995. Huggins is now 11-0 against Scarlet Knights. WVU won at Rutgers, 84-64, Jan. 4.
"They bully us," Rutgers Coach Mike Rice said. "They take us out of our offense. Our players are trying to run away from West Virginia players instead of executing. I give them tremendous credit. They are just tougher than us."
Rutgers (10-8, 2-3) had beaten Connecticut and Pitt since losing to the Mountaineers, but shot just 39.7 percent in the game with 19 turnovers.
The Mountaineers had their largest halftime lead of the season at 48-22, but Huggins called a timeout after just 1 minute, 43 seconds of the second half. Jones scored 10 points to push the lead back to 26 points, but the Mountaineers saw that drop down to just 16 points.
Rutgers used a 16-3 run to make it 64-48, but the Mountaineers scored 17 of the game's next 21 points to go up by 30.
WVU plays at 7:30p.m. Wednesday against Marshall in the Capital Classic inside the Charleston Civic Center, an occasion Huggins isn't exactly celebrating.
"I think playing the Marshall game in the middle of the conference season is a disaster," Huggins said. "It doesn't help either team. They won last year and went out and just got drilled the next game out. It ought to be in the preseason. It should not be where it is."
WVU took control early Saturday and never slowed down the rest of the first half. The Mountaineers started 5-for-7 from the floor with an assist on each baskets and made all three of their 3-point attempts and all four free-throw attempts to take a 17-6 lead. Rutgers got as close as 17-12, but WVU built its lead all the way until it was 48-22 at the half.
It was a 32-15 game and the Scarlet Knights had nine fouls and nine turnovers while WVU had three and three. The Mountaineers built their lead with Jones going just 1-for-5, but Jones had a fast break dunk before Miles tipped in an offensive rebound for his third basket of the half to make it 37-15.
Miles was 2-for-6 in 54 minutes during WVU's five Big East games. The dunk got Jones going and he made a jumper and then a 3 on back-to-back possessions to put WVU ahead 42-20.
The Mountaineers were 17-for-30 (56.7 percent) from the floor in the first half with assists on all but three baskets and 6-for-10 from 3-point range. Both were better performances than what WVU did at the free-throw line: 8-for-15 (53.3 percent). Rutgers committed 14 fouls in the first half and 17 in the game. Guard Jerome Seagears ahd a technical and an intentional foul in the second half.
"It was an absolutely pathetic defensive performance," Rice said. "They were all hugging their men. It looked like it was the first time they had met each other."
Rutgers was 9-for-27 in the first half and missed all nine 3-point attempts. The Scarlet Knights had 11 turnovers that led to 14 WVU points. The halftime lead was a point better than the 51-26 advantage WVU had over Rutgers earlier this month.
"We pretty much did the same thing we did at Rutgers," Huggins said. "We kind of took them out of what they wanted to do, forced them out a little bit higher than they wanted to be and the weave (offense) is not as effective when it's that far out on the floor. The screen is not that effective when it is that far out on the floor."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.