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West Virginia locks down Seton Hall

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Kevin Jones reaches 1,000-point milestone in 56-44 Mountaineers win

Morgantown—Nothing seems to bring them down anymore.

With Casey Mitchell (suspension) and Dan Jennings (quit team) out of the lineup, the eight-manned roster of West Virginia (15-6, 6-3) took to the court Wednesday night, and in dominating fashion, shut down Big East-foe Seton Hall (10-13, 4-7) 56-44 at WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers are now 3-1 without Mitchell and Jennings, and are currently 6-2, which is tied for second place in the Big East standings.

Kevin Jones, who surpassed the 1,000 point milestone in his career Wednesday night, led WVU with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“Any win is a good win, and this is no different,” said Jones, who went 6 of 14 from the floor.

West Virginia out-rebounded the Pirates 48-36, as well as holding them to a rugged 18 of 61 (29.5%) from the floor.

Seton Hall star-guard Jeremy Hazell—who averages 19.1 points per game—was held to just five points, going 1 of 8 from the field, while center Herb Pope was held to just eight points.

“We guard pretty well,” said Coach Bob Huggins.  “We've made a lot of progress defensively and we've made a lot of progress rebounding the basketball.  Those are two areas we've made a tremendous amount of progress in.”

“It was a really fun game,” said center Deniz Kilicli, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds on the night.  “When we play that kind of defense and they can't make anything, that's something really great to see.  When you have a player like (Jeremy) Hazell, who couldn't hit a shot all night, it was a fun thing to see.”

While Seton Hall couldn't buy a bucket, it was the Mountaineers who also found cold-spurts throughout the game offensively, shooting just 23 of 56 (41.1%), including just eight field-goals in the second half alone.

“We just stood around,” said Huggins.  “I don't know why we do it, I can't explain it.  We took bad shots and we took shots out of character for what this team has to do to be good.  We don't have guys that can dribble the ball and make plays, so we have to rely  on being able to screen, cut, pass and make open shots.  When we do that, we're pretty good and when we don't, we're not very good.”

Jones saw the lighter side of the offensive struggles.

“We passed up good shots to get great shots,” the Mountaineers forward said.  “Sometimes we passed the ball a little too much at times.  We just want to play unselfish basketball right now.”

Point guards Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla combined for a 2 of 13 night from the field with just seven points scored.

“We just have to find better looks,” said Mazzulla.  “We played solid defense, but offensively, I think it's just a matter of finding the better shot, and making sure that we finish.”

West Virginia, who held a lead by as much as 24-points, did most of their damage in the first half, scoring 33 points, including a 22-9 run to end the half, which was ignited by Kilicli, who had eight points during the run.

“We just didn't play a very good first half offensively,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard.  “They're a terrific defensive team and they're hard-nosed.  We knew we were going to struggle with the score, but I didn't think we were going to struggle that much.  Sometimes on the road, you just don't play well.  They played very well.”

Despite their struggles offensively, the Mountaineers did not lose the lead throughout the game's entirety.

Forward John Flowers added 10 points, with seven rebounds, while Cam Thoroughman contributed with 10 points, going 5 of 7 from the field, helping push West Virginia to the near-top of the Big East to start the month of February.

“The Big East is like, nobody can really explain it right now,” said Thoroughman.  “We just have to keep doing what we're doing, and we'll see where it takes us.”

Eight Men Out
With just an eight-man roster, West Virginia has won three games, losing just one to the hands of Louisville, by a score of 55-54.  They've defeated South Florida, 56-46, at Cincinnati by a score of 66-55, and Wednesday night's victory over Seton Hall.

“When you're playing together, you're playing with a purpose,” said Jones about being undermanned.  “If we did it individually it would definitely be tougher, but everybody is coming together and we're starting to bond.  We're all looking toward one goal right now, and we aren't going to make excuses; we're going to just keep playing through the tough times, and get through it.”

1,000 Point Club
Kevin Jones became the 47th player in Mountaineers' history to join the 1,000 point club, after he topped the milestone on an offensive-put-back layup with 9:25 in the first half.  He received a standing ovation from the crowd during a timeout that took place just two minutes after the basket.

“It's nice to do that,” said the humble Jones about the milestone.  “I'm more focused on just helping this team right now, and I want to just keep winning.”

Play of the Day
With 18:59 left in the second half, West Virginia ignited a possession that would last for 1:36—including three offensive rebounds and a save out-of-bounds by John Flowers—ending with a Kevin Jones jump-shot from just above the free-throw line.

Next Up
West Virginia will travel to Villanova in a Big East showdown with the Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 5.  Tipoff for the game is set for noon.

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