MORGANTOWN -- The last time West Virginia played a basketball game, Aaric Murray wasn't even invited to go along on the trip. When the Mountaineers played Wednesday night, though, he was indispensable.
Murray had 12 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and four assists as West Virginia overcame another slow start to beat Oakland, 76-71, at the Coliseum.
"Aaric's an amazing player,'' said teammate Keaton Miles, whose pair of 3-pointers helped fuel a 23-7 run midway through the second half that allowed West Virginia to overcome what had been an almost game-long deficit. "And when you get him giving his all and going all in, you get a night like tonight.''
Not giving his all and not going all in, however, gets Murray what he got last weekend, which was a seat at home while the Mountaineers traveled to Brooklyn to face No. 3 Michigan. Whether his presence would have made a difference in that 81-66 loss can be debated, but there was no doubt he was a significant reason the Mountaineers were able to break a two-game losing streak Wednesday night in front of a small crowd of just 4,982.
"Honestly, Aaric will have a couple of good days and then he'll have a real bad day,'' West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "He kind of mirrors our team in a lot of ways. He can't handle prosperity.''
Against Oakland, Murray didn't start but came off the bench less than four minutes into the game and dominated at times, even though he found himself in early foul trouble. He scored on a closely-guarded hook shot and a 3-pointer from the top of the key in the first half and had three assists and two blocks.
In the second half he started that 23-7 run with a three-point play and then watched Dominique Rutledge take over inside with a dunk. Miles and Eron Harris each had 3s and Rutledge converted an alley-oop pass from Gary Browne into another dunk and all of a sudden WVU had a nine-point lead.
Oakland didn't go away, though, getting long 3-pointers from Travis Bader (25 points, including six 3s) and Duke Mondy and with 21/2 minutes to play the score was tied at 71.
Browne made what proved to be the winning score on what amounted to a garbage basket with 1:51 to play. He scooped up a loose ball well in the backcourt after Juwan Staten had lost the handle and charged toward the basket with the shot clock running out. He made his 14-footer for a 73-71 lead.
Neither team scored on a pair of possessions after that and Murray clinched at least a tie with one free throw with 18 seconds to play to make it a three-point game, 74-71. Bader then missed a 3-pointer with 7.3 seconds to all but end it. Murray added two free throws for the final margin.