Get Connected
  • facebook
  • twitter
Print

WVU men's basketball: Murray leads Mountaineers past Radford

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Aaric Murray scored 23 points, a career high in a West Virginia uniform, and the Mountaineers defeated Radford 72-62 for their second straight nonconference victory Saturday.

The 6-foot-10 junior, who transferred from La Salle, also had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals for his second solid outing in a row since missing West Virginia's 81-66 loss to No. 3 Michigan on Dec. 15 because of disciplinary reasons. The previous week, he had been named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week.

Since the Michigan game, Murray has tallied 35 points, 18 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks.

At La Salle, where Murray played two years before sitting out the 2011-12 season because of NCAA rules, his career high was 28 points.

Dominique Rutledge came off the bench for the Mountaineers (6-5) to contribute eight rebounds in 22 minutes.

Javonte Green had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Radford (5-7), which has lost four straight. Blake Smith chipped in 13 points and five rebounds. The Highlanders are 0-5 against West Virginia.

Radford coach Mike Jones was an assistant at West Virginia in 2002-03.

The Highlanders were playing without leading scorer R.J. Price (13.1 points per game), who sat out the contest with a sprained ankle.

The Mountaineers' 1-3-1 zone defense forced five straight turnovers in the second half, which West Virginia turned into seven consecutive points.

The two teams exchanged one-point leads six straight times as Mountaineers reserve guard Gary Browne swished a pair of free throws for a 50-49 edge with 8:52 to go.

Immediately, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose program won for the 45th time at home against the last 46 nonconference opponents, implemented the trapping zone. His Mountaineers ran their lead from one to eight points with 6:23 showing.

West Virginia senior Deniz Kilicli and Browne trapped the ball in the back court, then Kilicli hit a streaking Browne with a perfect lead pass. Browne turned it into a three-point play. West Virginia forced a travel out of Rashun Davis, and Murray muscled up for a layup at the other end of the court.

After Green threw the ball out of bounds, Kilicli contributed a free throw. Finally, Murray, hustling all over the floor, made a steal which teammate Keaton Miles turned into another foul shot.

The defensive show got the West Virginia faithful buzzing for the first time in a game that included 31 turnovers and 47 personal fouls.

The seven-point spell actually was part of a 24-13 streak the Mountaineers put on the Highlanders in the last 9:11. During that span, a Radford team that seemed to wear down in the face of a bigger, stronger home squad, knocked down just four baskets.

Radford once held a three-point lead and the game was tied with 4:10 remaining in the first half when Murray contributed eight of nine West Virginia points to just one basket for the Highlanders to put his club ahead by four.

In the second half, the Mountaineers advanced the lead to 37-29 within the first three minutes.

However, Radford answered with a three-point play by Davis, a 3-point shot by Kyle Noreen, a subsequent steal and layup by Noreen and a three-point play by Jalen Carethers to push the Highlanders ahead 40-39 with 15:12 to go.

Immediately, West Virginia's Browne responded with a layup to give the Mountaineers a 41-40 lead they would not relinquish after Huggins' trapping defense went to work.

Radford's Noreen and West Virginia reserve Kevin Noreen are brothers who played high school basketball in Minneapolis.


Print

User Comments