Capital Classic notebook: WVU attacks inside, executes game plan
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Not to say West Virginia's 3-point shooting has been erratic this season, but it's missing from the NCAA's statistical rankings, too.
The Mountaineers haven't made enough 3-pointers to qualify. They need to average five per game, but had made only 19 in the first five games. If they had made enough to qualify, the 23.5 percent would be last among the 265 teams eligible to be ranked.
WVU was actually worse in Wednesday night's 69-59 Capital Classic win against Marshall.
A Charleston Civic Center crowd of 11,512 watched the Mountaineers go 1-for-6.
That was perfectly acceptable for WVU (3-3). It meant the game plan was executed as it was devised.
"Every team is different and you're going to have a different tactic, a different game plan every game," senior Deniz Kilicli said. "This was their weakness - they didn't want to guard anybody. So we attacked them inside."
The Mountaineers were 7-for-14 on layups in the first half, 10-for-20 in the second half and outscored Marshall 36-18 in the paint.
It was the fourth time a Bob Huggins team has made just one 3 in a game, but the first time in his six seasons Huggins has won the game. The six attempts were the fewest in a game since 1999.
The lone 3-pointer by Jabarie Hinds with 9:43 to go came after a teammate drove to the basket and drew defenders.
The teammate, oddly enough, was the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Kilicli. It gave WVU a 49-39 lead, largest of the game for either team at that point.
"I figured they couldn't guard the dribble," Kilicli said. "Their bigs just don't want to guard anybody. He got up on me and I couldn't pass to anybody.
"Huggs always says, 'Go to the middle and good things happen.' We try to keep people out of the middle. I thought, 'All right, I'm going to try to go to the middle and see what happens.' Something good happened."
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KILICLI'S ASSIST was one of just eight for WVU on 22 baskets. Point guard Juwan Staten led the team with three. Two were in a flurry late in the first half when the Mountaineers closed with a 12-1 run.
"Coming into the game, we knew we had to get paint touches, whether it was driving the ball or feeding the post and I think we did a great job of both," Staten said. "There wasn't a lot of transition in the game, but Marshall is the kind of team that plays spread out. Our goal was to attack the rim. It's hard to get assists when you're attacking the rim."
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THE RUN AT the end of the first half was highlighted by WVU's switch to a 1-3-1 zone in a timeout with 2:09 remaining. Marshall committed a turnover the first time it saw the zone when freshman Eron Harris - who had just entered the game - and sophomore Keaton Miles trapped Marshall's Dennis Tinnon along the sideline near mid-court.
That led to two free throws by Kilicli. A second turnover came before a jumper by Hinds. A third turnover was almost costly, but Harris missed a layup with 3 seconds to play and Miles dunked in the rebound after the buzzer.
"That was electric, to me, just to throw that thing in there," Miles said. "That was a great call by Coach Huggins. It put them in shock, like, 'Wow.' By the time they made adjustments, we'd already turned them over a few times."
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MILES PLAYED 30 minutes and had six points, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot off the bench and was involved in a handful of key defensive plays throughout the game.
He said he was slowed the previous two days by a stomach flu and could only eat full meals Wednesday.
"I got kind of lightheaded throughout the game," he said. "I don't have a lot of energy because I haven't been able to eat. Every time I'd eat the past two days, I'd throw it up."
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MARSHALL'S 13 first-half turnovers led to 10 points for WVU, which otherwise struggled shooting and was 10-for-30 from the floor. The Thundering Herd (5-4) had just four turnovers in the second half and gave WVU no free points.
"Can't have 13 turnovers in one half and come back with four in the second half," Coach Tom Herrion said. "A general lack of consistency bothered us."
Marshall was also 12-for-22 at the free-throw line, which was actually below the 60.1 percent the team was shooting this season. In addition, WVU managed 15 offensive rebounds for 12 points.
"I'm not sure West Virginia beat us," Herrion said. "We contributed mightily to the loss - and I don't mean that as any disrespect to West Virginia."
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THE MOUNTAINEERS had been shooting 68.5 percent at the line this season, but made 24 of 30 (80 percent) free throws in the game and 17 straight at one point.
"That was big," guard Gary Browne said. "They probably thought they could foul us because the percentage as a team has been real bad. They thought fouling us would be an advantage to them, but I think they saw the bad part of that."
Marshall had an interesting tactic when WVU was at the line and it may have contributed to the ugly scene at the end of the game. A player would step across the paint and box out WVU's free-throw shooter, but also back up and contact the shooter in his follow-through. The Mountaineers took exception to this and Huggins would later alert the officials.
"I didn't care - I was making everything," said Kilicli, who was targeted early, but made 7 of 8 at the line. "They can do anything, man. I come here and when I go on the court I play basketball and have fun. That's all it is.
"If one guy is trying to do dirty stuff, it's not going to make me not want to play my game or make me do something stupid and get a foul. I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to get down to that level. When they did whatever they did, I laughed at them and looked at the ref like, 'Is this OK?'"
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.