MORGANTOWN - Just when you thought Kevin Jones was going to lapse into another worn cliche Thursday night, he took a quick turn.
It was roughly 15 minutes after West Virginia finished off a 97-62 rout of Alcorn State and about two hours after Jones - very early in the game - had grabbed a teammate's missed shot and broken Chris Brooks' 20-year-old school record for offensive rebounds with his 321st.
"I couldn't have done it without my teammates,'' Jones said with a wide grin spreading across his face, "missing all those shots. This is a true team effort.''
Well, that's true, of course. Without missed shots there are no rebounds, and without teammates missing shots there aren't many offensive rebounds.
Of course, Jones has helped his own cause, too. Like Thursday night in the second half, when he took a step toward the basket and jumped up for a one-handed dunk. And missed.
It was Jones, of course, who got the rebound and scored, adding yet another offensive rebound to his total.
"Yeah, he pulled a Fortson today,'' WVU coach Bob Huggins said, referring to his All-America big man at Cincinnati in the mid-1990s, Danny Fortson. "Danny would do that every once in a while - crotch one just so he could rebound it and throw it again. And then he'd act like I didn't know what he was doing.''
Huggins won't often accuse Jones of padding his own stats, though. Sure, there have been plenty of his own misses that Jones has rebounded, but that's just routine. What isn't routine is Jones' knack for doing it.
How does he do it?
"He's blessed with a great pair of hands,'' Huggins said. "Some of our guys look like seals, batting the ball around out there. Not Kevin. That's the one thing all great rebounders have in common. They all have great hands.''
Not that Jones needed exceptional hands Thursday night. He played only 31 minutes against outmanned Alcorn State and finished with a career-high 29 points. He had his second straight double-double with 13 rebounds, 10 of them on the offensive end, and didn't even play the final five-plus minutes of the game with West Virginia leading by 30 points.
By the time it was over in front of a sparse announced crowd of 6,059, Jones had raised his three-game season averages to 21.3 points and 13.0 rebounds.
As for the game itself, well, it wasn't exactly a masterpiece, but it had its positives from WVU's point of view. The Mountaineers still committed way too many turnovers (16) and struggled at times, but built a 16-point lead by the end of the first half and led by 30 most of the second. The largest lead was the final score.
Truck Bryant had 18 points and four assists and, after committing six turnovers in WVU's last game, had none against the Braves. Freshman point guard Jabarie Hinds had 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals, but also had five turnovers.
Deniz Kilicli had 10 points and five rebounds, while freshman Gary Browne, the smallest player on WVU's roster at 6-foot-1, added eight points, four assists and a rather stunning 12 rebounds. Redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen added 12 points and seven boards, most coming late in the game.
Alcorn State got 12 points each from Marquis Baker and Chris Brand.
Jones, who had 15 points and 18 rebounds two days earlier in a 70-60 loss to Kent State, had a double-double by halftime against Alcorn State. He scored 15 of WVU's first 21 points and by the break the Mountaineers led 44-28 and Jones already had 20 points and 10 boards.
The game also marked the debut of freshman walk-on Paul Williamson from Harts, but not in mop-up time. With WVU struggling in the first half, Williamson got his chance less than seven minutes into the game and delivered, nailing a 3-pointer in his first college field goal attempt and a few minutes later getting another. He finished with seven points, two assists and even a blocked shot in 19 minutes.
West Virginia will now venture away from the Coliseum for the first time this season when the Mountaineers play the first of their two annual games in Charleston. Morehead State will be the opponent Tuesday night in a 7 p.m. game at the Civic Center.
Alcorn State, meanwhile, moves on for a game Saturday at the team that just beat West Virginia, Kent State.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.
West Virginia 97, Alcorn State 62
Alcorn State (0-1)
Player FG FT R A P
Ian Frances 3-5 2-4 10 0 8
Michael Starks 2-2 0-0 4 0 4
Chris Brand 4-10 2-2 4 0 12
Twann Oakley 3-7 0-0 4 1 8
Marquiz Baker 3-15 5-11 0 2 12