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Sprained ankle sidelined Kilicli, didn't slow down WVU

By Jack Bogaczyk

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University forward Deniz Kilicli sprained his right ankle in practice Monday and didn't dress for Wednesday night's Capital Classic.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen started against Marshall in WVU's 78-62 win.

Kilicli sat on the WVU bench in street clothes, wearing a boot on his right foot. Coach Bob Huggins said he is "uncertain" about the junior big man's status for Saturday's WVU Coliseum contest against Cincinnati.

In his first career start, the 6-foot-10 Noreen played a career-high 29 minutes, scoring six points to go with five rebounds.

"I thought Kevin played well," WVU Coach Bob Huggins said. "He gives us things Deniz doesn't, quite frankly. He passes the ball and he's got a great understanding of what we're trying to do."

Kilicli, a 6-9, 260-pound junior from Turkey, had started the previous 18 games for the Mountaineers (14-5). He's averaging 11 points and 5.4 rebounds and shooting 51.8 percent from the floor. Kilicli was posting up and fell in practice Monday.

His absence was expected to be a blow for the Mountaineers against the Thundering Herd (13-5), which was No. 1 nationally in rebounding margin and offensive rebounds and hadn't been outrebounded this season - until WVU won the battle of the boards 37-27 Wednesday.

The 245-pound Noreen scored WVU's first two field goals to open the game. He was averaging 12.7 minutes per game entering Wednesday's contest.

He hadn't played more than 23 minutes in a game. Noreen averages 2.4 points per game and 2.9 rebounds, but he had 15 rebounds in 30 minutes the previous two games.

Noreen took a medical redshirt and played only seven games last season. He ruptured the prepatellar bursa in his right knee and needed season-ending surgery Jan. 12, 2011. He was named Mr. Basketball in Minnesota in 2010.

*  *  *

WEST VIRGINIA'S impressive showing on the boards may have been rooted in Huggins' early week move in showing his team tape of the Herd hitting the glass, then working on rebounding technique in practice ... repeatedly.

"There was no secret," said WVU senior forward Kevin Jones, who shared his team's rebounding lead (seven) with guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant. "It was old-fashioned boxing out and keep them on your backside, so the only way they can get it is to go over your back.

"I think everybody did pretty good five-man box out, because Marshall sends everyone to the glass.

"We did a really good job of boxing out."

Huggins said WVU's work on the boards was a big factor, as was his team's "improving" halfcourt defense.

"I thought we did a really good job of rebounding the basketball and not giving them second shots because they are a terrific offensive rebounding team," the WVU coach said. "They've got guys with a lot of bounce and they play a bunch of guys, so they've got a lot of fresh bodies going out there."

WVU has been outrebounded only twice this season in 19 games in wins over Oral Roberts and Villanova.

*  *  *

THE AWARD for the longest distance traveled to get to this Capital Classic likely goes to one of the series all-time stars.

Beckley native and former Marshall standout Tamar Slay flew from Italy - where he plays pro basketball - to attend the game. Slay sat behind the Herd bench, attending the game with his younger brother, Jason, an assistant coach at West Virginia State.

Slay flew from Italy to Charlotte, N.C., to connect to Yeager Airport.

Slay still holds the Capital Classic individual single-game scoring record of 35 points, scored at the Civic Center on Jan. 18, 2000 in an 82-77 loss to WVU.

*  *  *

AFTER FOUR consecutive seasons of foul-fest Capital Classics, the 2012 version was very tame in the whistle department.

There had been 210 fouls called in the 2008-11 games, topped by 64 last year, and the Herd's half of those is a school record. Those whistles yielded 245 free throws.

This time, there were only 23 fouls called by the final telecast timeout - and 14 free throws attempted - before Marshall began to hack in a futile attempt to get back into a game that had gone lopsided.

The Herd committed nine fouls in the final 3:33.

The game's foul total of 32 (20 by Marshall, 12 by WVU) called by officials Doug Sirmons, Les Jones and Jamie Luckie still paled in comparison to the last four years, which saw, in order, 52, 54, 40 and 64 fouls.

*  *  *

THE WVU WIN was its 29th in 40 games against the Herd, and WVU is 18-5 in games played in Charleston.

The capacity crowd of 12,684 was a record for a Capital Classic in Charleston and the 13th consecutive sellout in the series. 

*  *  *

HUGGINS MAY BE in favor of moving the Capital Classic to an earlier part of the season and before both teams begin conference play, but he doesn't want to lose Marshall as an opponent and prefers playing in Charleston.

"I don't have any problem playing the game, but the notion we can't play the game in December - if in fact everyone is concerned about football - they're still going to come watch West Virginia and Marshall, which maybe kind of kick starts all of us into having better attendance and turning people to basketball earlier," Huggins said. "We've never really had a problem here. Football and basketball co-exist here really well and share fan bases and they come to both."

Huggins said last week playing the Classic during conference play was a "disaster" and said that he'd prefer playing in December. This week, Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said the Classic would lose "significance," if the game were to be played in December.

The game has been played 17 times in the past 20 years in January and when the state Legislature is in session.

"I think what it comes down to is they have to look at what's best for them and we have to look at what's best for us," Huggins said. "Their charge is not to do everything to help us. Our charge is not to do everything to help them.

"It's what's best for our university. We have to make decisions all the time that are in the best interest of our university."

*  *  *

THE WOMEN'S version of the Capital Classic was played Tuesday night, a departure from the norm. The games have been played as part of a doubleheader since the series moved to Charleston in 1991-92.

The West Virginia women defeated Marshall, 69-57, in front of a crowd of 3,26 in the 12,360-seat arena.

"Great crowd," WVU Coach Mike Carey said. "I appreciate everybody coming out. I was real happy with the crowd, the enthusiasm. Maybe it (should) stay on Tuesday."

Marshall Coach Royce Chadwick's focus was more on the timing of the game, not the day of the week. He lost forward Alyse Poindexter to a broken nose in the game.

"For the second year in a row in the middle of conference I've got a kid that I don't know if she's going to play in the next conference game," Chadwick said. "If we're going to be in that situation where we always lose somebody, I'd rather lose them for a week in November.

"I'd rather see it go home-and-home. We don't draw well in November. Everybody is jacked up about our football team and right so, but if we could get West Virginia in there in November we could maybe get a good crowd."

Last year's attendance at the Civic Center was 2,023 for the women's game, the first half of a WVU-Marshall doubleheader.

"It doesn't matter to me," Carey said. "We've tried 5:30, we've tried playing at 6:30 and now we try playing on Tuesday. What the hell? Let's just do whatever, I don't care."


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