Jones, while shooting a decent percentage overall (44.4 percent), has numbers that are skewed by his inside shots. Away from the basket he has been ice cold, shooting 24.3 percent on 3s (7-for-36 in the last 12 games, 19.4 percent). Until finally making one against Pitt, he had missed 10 straight free throws and nearly as many mid-range jump shots, which last season were automatic for him.
Casey Mitchell, in limited playing time since returning from a suspension, is 2-for-13 overall and 1-for-8 on 3-pointers.
John Flowers has been about as consistent as anyone of late, but he has his moments, too, like going 2-for-8 and 1-for-4 in recent losses to Louisville and Pitt.
And Joe Mazzulla, since going 8-for-12 in that loss at Louisville, is 5-for-20 since then. But his shots are more often than not drives to the basket. He's 3-for-18 from 3-point range, 1-for-15 outside of Louisville's KFC Yum! Center.
So for outside shooting options, that leaves Dalton Pepper and Jonnie West. Pepper has come on of late with more playing time and is perhaps the Mountaineer one would trust most with an outside shot these days. But West, because of defensive deficiencies, is little more than a stop-gap measure when all else fails.
Huggins, of course, won't simply abandon outside shooting. There has to be that threat or Kilicli and Jones won't have any room to work inside when defenses collapse on them.
Then again, the hope is that if and when that happens, it will create even easier outside shots for the perimeter players and perhaps they will start making some. It's not as if these guys have never been able to shoot.
Mitchell will eventually find the stroke that allowed him to average 22.3 points the first month of the season and shoot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range until mid-January. Bryant was shooting 42.4 percent from 3-point range through the first 11 games. Jones was a 40 percent 3-point shooter last season. And Flowers has become perhaps the best clutch shooter on the team.
But until someone finds the basket, getting closer looks is all the Mountaineers can try to do.
"He did a great job [against Pitt],'' Jones said of Kilicli. "And we need that. We need his post play if we're going to win. We have to get closer shots.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.