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Jones leads WVU over Tennessee Tech

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Kevin Jones scored 25 points and collected 14 rebounds as West Virginia beat Tennessee Tech 72-53 at WVU Coliseum Monday night.

A double-double from Kevin Jones nightly is as consistent as a sunrise in the desert.

And with the star senior's game-leading 25 points and 14 rebounds, West Virginia (8-2) left Tennessee Tech (6-5) completely parched, rolling their Ohio Valley opponent 72-53 at WVU Coliseum Monday night.

Jones is now at six season double-doubles with his impressive performance, which included shooting 11-of-20 from the field, and two assists with no turnovers.

“He is going to be an All-American. He is averaging 20-12 [points-rebounds] in the Big East and he is a player,” said head coach Bob Huggins. “He does a great job inside, and I've always been impressed with what a complete player he is, and what a great person that he is.”

Jones received plenty of help from his teammates, who contributed to a 10-2 run to start the second half, pulling away for good from the Golden Eagles. As a team, WVU shot 25-of-55 (45.5%) from the field, while holding Tennessee Tech to a sub-par 33.9 percent shooting, including just 1-of-15 from beyond-the-arc.

“We defended them pretty good, and I thought, as a team, we all did our jobs,” guard Truck Bryant said. “We knew they had a couple of good shooters, and we just had to get in their faces, force some tough shots, get the rebound and turn it into good offense.”

Bryant, who finished the game with 15 points, 6 rebounds and just 2 turnovers, sealed up the preseason Ohio Valley player of the year in guard Kevin Murphy, holding the senior to just 7 points on 2-of-11 shooting, while forcing 3 turnovers with no assists.

“Truck did a great job. Truck did a terrific job,” said Huggins about Bryant's one-on-one defense against Murphy. “I told him in practice that you are probably going to have to guard him and I think after the first three or four possessions, he said, 'I got him.'  I think he did a great job. Defense to Truck was like a bad word when he got here and he has progressed so far. He understands that we need him to guard. He and Kevin Jones both need to guard.”

Due to the superb halfcourt defense from the Mountaineers, only one player (Jud Dillard- 15 points) finished in double-figures, and just two total players connecting on 3 or more field goals.

“I thought they pushed up on our guards really hard. Our guards are good scorers, but they have to be too willing to throw the ball to the post,” Tennessee Tech head coach Steve Payne said. “They did a good job of defending our backcuts, and just getting hands in our faces the entire night.”

West Virginia received double-figure scoring from three players, including a 12-point performance from Deniz Kilicli, who also added 5 rebounds on the night.

Kilicli and Jones helped to add a team 32 points in the paint and 17 second chance points, despite being out-rebounded 37-35.

“I felt like we came out a little bit slow as far as offense. The more we passed the ball around, the more the tempo went up, and the more we started playing better.”

Bench Help
Coach Huggins had a deep bench in Monday night's game, playing 8 guys for 10 or more minutes.

Paul Williamson contributed with a strong 6 points and 3 assists in just 13 minutes of play, while forward Gary Browne added 5 points and 2 rebounds in 22 minutes of action.

“We're going to need Paul,” said Jones. “He is a guy that can spread the ball around and get the ball to an open guy for a finish. He is going to be a very important player as we keep going on.”

“I liked the fact that I got more minutes tonight,” Williamson, who averaged just around 2 minutes before Monday night said. “I was just happy to get in there and help the team as much as I could to get a win.”

“Paul is our best shooter,” said Huggins. “They were playing zone and a couple of other guys I didn't think took the game serious enough. I knew Paul would take the game serious. I think he played really well.”

As a team, WVU received 13 points in the paint.  

699 and Counting
In his 30th season as a head coach in men's D-1 basketball, Bob Huggins is now just one win shy of reaching the illustrious 700-wins plateau.  

Huggins will join an all-star caliber cast of 19 coaches with the 700 or more wins, including Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and Jerry Tarkanian.

“It's great for him,” said Kilicli about his coach nearing the milestone. “He has always been more than a coach to me. He's taught me a lot about the game. I hope he just keeps winning more and more. Obviously, because that would mean I'm winning right there with him.”

Huggins had modest thoughts about the 700-plateau.

“I've been coaching basketball for 30 years, and I enjoy what I do. I look at it as just another game that I'm coaching,” the coach said. “I had a friend, back when I was one game away from 600 wins, that told me, '600 wins? That's impressive. But wait a minute, you have over 200 losses. That's not good.' It's nice to have people like that put it into perspective. Obviously a homerun hitter is going to tell you about all of the homeruns he hit but not all of the strikeouts. It means more to know that we're doing something good in the community.”

Next Up
The Mountaineers will look to secure 700 wins for Huggins as they travel to Las Vegas for the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic to face Missouri State on Thursday, Dec. 22. Tipoff for that game is set for 8 PM ET. As apart of the tournament, West Virginia will play a game the following day against Baylor. That game is set for 9 PM ET.

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