Despite a prolonged struggle against the Wildcats, a practice Friday that Huggins said was lighter than anything his teams have ever done and then Miami's hot start Saturday, WVU survived and played arguably its best basketball at a most unlikely time.
"We had days that I thought we were not going to get better and just lose every game and we've had days I thought we were going to win the national championship," Kilicli said. "It's just so up and down, up and down, but we're starting to get more consistent in practice and in games and the freshmen are starting to understand how important their position is. They've stopped taking plays off and started to communicate with us when they're tired."
In back-to-back games, the Mountaineers had key players get career-high point totals. Kevin Jones scored 30 against Kansas State and Truck Bryant, who had 24 against the Wildcats, scored 27 against Miami. Kilicli had 18 points against the Hurricanes, one off his career high. He would have had a personal high had he not missed two free throws with 2:18 left to play.
"I've said all along, we need at least two of those three to play well," Huggins said.
Jones, who was 12-for-17 against Kansas State, didn't have his shot going against Miami and was 4-for-12. Yet the offense surged with Bryant and Kilicli and complementary parts.
Freshman Gary Browne, who was 1-for-8 from 3-point range all season, made two and had all nine of his points in the first half.
"He made some shots in the first half that I'm sure surprised them because they surprised me," Huggins said.
Freshman Aaron Brown, who had 10 points against Kansas State, added seven against Miami and five in the run early in the second half.
"They've been stepping up big for us the last two games," Jones said. "It's not the fact they're playing good in the games. It's the opponents they're playing against. They're playing against good people at such a high level and I'm more glad about that than anything. We can count on them to come through against higher level teams."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.