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Second-half surge pushes Mountaineers over Miami

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Truck Bryant scored 27 points to power the Mountaineers to a 77-66 win over Miami Saturday night at the WVU Coliseum.

It was as dominant as a basketball team could start a second half.

Using a 25-3 run to begin the final 20 minutes of play, West Virginia (6-2) humiliated their ACC-foe  who held a two-point lead at the half, knocking off the Hurricanes 77-66 at WVU Coliseum Saturday night.

Miami (5-4) failed to score a single field goal in the second half until the 11:03 mark.  

Guard Truck Bryant finished with a career-high 27 points, going 9 of 12 from the field, while adding 4 assists.

“The shots were falling tonight,” said Bryant who shot 5 of 7 from beyond-the-arc.  “Confidence building and that was what we needed.  Just a good night offensively for the entire team.”

As a team, the Mountaineers shot a solid 27 of 50 from the field, which helped push them to as much as a 20-point lead in the second half.

“We guarded a lot better and I thought our energy was a lot better,” said Coach Bob Huggins.  “We changed how we guarded the ball screen, which I think slowed them down coming off the ball screen a little bit, and we made some shots.  Truck made some shots, and everybody looks better when the ball goes in.”

West Virginia also received strong performances from front court tandem Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli, who combined for 17 rebounds and 30 points.

Kilicli, who scored 18 points, came just one point shy of tying his career-high.

“We didn't change much, we just came out with more intensity,” said Kilicli.  “I was proud of how we came out.  We came out tough.”

Jones, who tallied just one field goal in the 1st half, finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds.

“He missed a couple of shots that he normally makes all the time- those 12 footers against the zone,” said Huggins.  “He got better in the second half.”

“I found some open spots and just took what they gave me,” Jones continued.  “Once I got going I just kept trying to stay in a solid flow for the rest of the game.  I think we just rallied around our defensive pressure, and we turned that over to the offensive side of the ball.”

After Miami held a 37-35 halftime lead, the Mountaineers raced out to an early 16-2 run in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half.  The Hurricanes would answer with just 9 field goals to finish the game.

Miami finished the game shooting 24 of 55 (43.6%) from the field.

“I'd say in the second half they picked up their defensive intensity,” said Miami Coach Jim Larranaga.  “Instead of us playing a little better together we became unglued and started rushing shots and making no passes and not defending them like we had in the first half.”

Aaron Brown chipped in with 7 points, while while Gary Browne finished the night with 9 points and 6 assists for the Mountaineers.  Malcolm Grant led Miami with a team-high 17 points.

Another Second Half to Remember
Coming off of a thrilling double overtime victory in Wichita over Kansas State Thursday night, West Virginia showed no fatigue, as they raced to one of their best runs to start a half in school history.

“I didn't think we were tired and we didn't show it in the second half,” said Bryant about fatigue playing a possible factor.  “We got home late, but we got some rest and we prepared for tonight.  We knew what we had to do and what was in front of us.  We executed pretty well, I think.”

The Mountaineers scored 42 points in the final period of play.

“That's what we need to do to be a good team.  We need to come out strong to finish a game like that,” said Kilicli.  

“We didn't do a whole lot yesterday (Friday),” said Huggins about the fatigue factor Saturday night.  “Fortunately, they (Miami) do not run a lot of stuff.  They run predominately four out one in and then some NBA action with a screen and roll.  That made it easier because we had worked on that before.  Familiarity, it helps.”

Bryant, who was the catalyst behind the massive run, posted 17 points and 3 assists in the second half alone.

Huggins Reaction on Cincinnati- Xavier Brawl
Coach Huggins was asked about the ugly brawl that broke out on the court in Cincinnati today.

“(The rivalry) is really intense.  I was there 16 years,” said the former Cincinnati coach.  “It is very intense from a player's standpoint, from a coaches standpoint and from a fan's standpoint.  But nothing like that ever happened when I was there.”

Huggins continued on what he would do in that situation.

“I think my guys understand that they really do not want to screw with me,” he said.  “When I tell them stay there, they stay there.  I would have probably taken a couple of those guys to the bench to get them out of harms way and under control.  I'm fortunate enough that I am big enough and getting bigger that I can do some things that other people can't do.”

Next Up
The Mountaineers get a week off before they take on Texas A&M Corpus Christi at WVU Coliseum Dec. 17.  Tipoff for that game is set for 2:00 PM.

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