"I suppose it was good and bad,'' Jones said of having to sit and watch a first half in which WVU went one-for-nine from the floor and turned the ball over repeatedly while relying almost exclusively on newcomers over the final seven minutes. "It was good because now they've had a look at what we're like without me and Truck and Deniz on the floor. But it's bad because we need to be out there.''
In the absence of those three, a handful of the younger Mountaineers acquitted themselves fairly well, but only in short spurts, although most of the production came later in the game. Noreen, while scoring just four points, had five assists, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Aaron Brown sank a couple of 3-pointers and finished with eight points, while Jabarie Hinds had six points, four assists and three steals. Gary Browne also had four assists and two steals and even Tommie McCune broke a season-long scoring drought with his first points on a 3-pointer.
Still, by the end of the first half, West Virginia had lost most of a lead that had reached nine points and led just 32-28 at the break.
And, truth be told, none of that surprised Huggins.
"I knew we weren't ready to play today,'' Huggins said. "We weren't ready to play in our shoot-around today, so I saw it coming.''
Again, though, it didn't really matter against the Islanders (1-7). When Jones and Kilicli rejoined the group in the second half it was really just a matter of executing simple things like getting the ball to those two inside. At one point they combined to score 19 of the team's 24 points as the lead ballooned from 35-31 to 59-37.
"That was the plan all along, to just throw it inside because they didn't really have anybody who could guard us,'' Jones said.
Of course, in order to throw it inside, Jones and Kilicli had to be on the floor. When they aren't, for whatever reason, things are going to get rough.
"I think we got the point,'' Kilicli said. "If we play like [the first half], it's not going to work.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.