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.
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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.
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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.
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