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WVU thunders past Herd

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Deniz Kilicli, wearing a gray sweatsuit and with his right foot in a protective boot, watched from the end of the bench as his West Virginia teammates dominated rebounding without him.

"Maybe we shouldn't play him anymore," WVU men's basketball Coach Bob Huggins said with a smirk. "What do you think?"

Marshall, No. 1 among Division I teams in rebounding margin (plus-11.2) entering Wednesday's Capital Classic, was beaten on the boards for the first time this season.

That statistic, and a critical offensive rebound in the first half, helped the Mountaineers to a 78-62 win over the Thundering Herd in front of a Classic-record 12,684 fans at the Charleston Civic Center.

The margin of victory - 16 points - is the most lopsided of any contest in the intrastate series played in Charleston.  

"I thought they were quicker, stronger, faster and more aggressive to the ball," said Marshall second-year Coach Tom Herrion, who watched the Herd's four-game winning streak come to an end. "We didn't find a body to block out. We reached, we tipped and we were flat out not aggressive enough."

Marshall (13-5) had outrebounded 10 of its first 17 opponents by double figures, including staggering margins like plus-29, plus-21 and plus-19.

WVU (14-5), however, won the rebounding battle in both halves, and a critical offensive board by Dominic Rutledge led to a four-point possession that steered momentum away from the Herd.

Rutledge, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior forward, corralled a missed free throw by Aaron Brown, who was trying to complete an old-fashioned 3-point play.

Brown, a freshman forward, ended up with the ball in his hands at the top of the key and banked in a shot that trimmed a 27-20 deficit to four points with 2:39 left of the first half.

That ended a 10-0 run by the Thundering Herd, which got eight points in that stretch from sophomore guard DeAndre Kane in transition and on breakouts after missed shots or turnovers.

"Our spacing and balance was terrible," Huggins said. "I think they got five layups (in the first half). That was kind of my message is try to throw it to the guys with the blue shirts on.

"We made them play against our half-court defense."

After falling behind by seven points at the 3:12 mark of the opening half, West Virginia outscored Marshall 58-35 the rest of the way and led by as many as 19 in the second half.

"We just got outplayed tonight," said Kane, who had a team-high 19 points and won MVP honors for the Herd. "We are the top rebounding team in the country and we got outrebounded by 10.

"That doesn't happen to us."

Dennis Tinnon, a 6-8, 225-pound junior, finished with a team-high 10 rebounds, but his frontcourt friends were kept off the glass.

Starting forward Robert Goff finished with one rebound in 26 minutes and reserve forward Nigel Spikes added three boards in 18 minutes off the bench, giving the Herd just four boards in 44 combined minutes from two of its bigs.

"We are usually so good at going and getting everything," Tinnon said. "It was one shot and done, which is what we do to teams."  

Marshall tied a season-low with just nine offensive rebounds.

Huggins, who won his 705th career game and 115th at West Virginia in five seasons, said he went back to basics this week in preparation for the Capital Classic, even before Kilicli turned his ankle in Monday's practice.

"We went back to doing block out drills, for one," the veteran WVU coach said. "I told them, 'Don't make me put you on the treadmill. You better have your behind on somebody.'"

West Virginia received at least five rebounds from five different players. Game MVP Kevin Jones shared the team lead with fellow senior Darryl "Truck" Bryant with seven rebounds.

Jones, who finished 8-for-12 from the field, 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and made all six of his free-throw attempts, finished with a game-high 25 points and never left the floor.

Bryant added 22 points.

Kevin Noreen, a 6-10 redshirt freshman, started in place of Kilicli and scored six points with five boards.

"He gives us some things Deniz doesn't give us, quite frankly," Huggins said. "I thought he did a really good job rebounding the ball."

Herrion, 1-1 against West Virginia, lamented the final three minutes of the first half.

In addition to missing the box out that led to Brown's four-point possession, the Herd misfired on two alley-oop attempts and turned the ball over on a simple inbounds play with 5.6 seconds left in the first half.

That gave WVU the final shot of the half and Bryant sank a 3-pointer that tied the score.

"Really bad finish to the half and I didn't think we responded out of halftime," Herrion said. "They put us on our heels coming out of halftime and we weren't able to get into a flow offensively.

"Missed some chippies and didn't get to the foul line enough (3-for-6 as a team). More credit to them in that respect.

"I thought we were grossly outplayed."

Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.

 


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