MORGANTOWN - Kevin Jones has now played five of West Virginia's last six games without making a 3-point shot. Only when he dropped in a pair against Kansas State - one of which sent that one into overtime - did he score from long range.
It's becoming increasingly obvious, though, that at least in the early part of the Mountaineers' schedule, getting production from Jones around the basket and not from the perimeter is all WVU needs.
The 6-foot-8 senior scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds - his sixth double-double in 10 games - and West Virginia used another big second half to cruise to a 72-53 win over Tennessee Tech Monday night at the Coliseum.
In other words, Jones might not be getting his points the way he has always gotten them - mostly on mid-range jump shots and those 3-pointers - but he is expanding his game while contracting the range from which he gets his points.
And that's fine with just about everyone concerned.
"He'll make shots,'' West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said after winning his 699th game as a college coach. "He works too hard not to make shots.''
For right now, though, those shots are coming from around the basket. That's not something Jones has always been adept at doing. Even with his size, his mid-range and perimeter games were always his forte. But this season he has become a legitimate force around the basket, which is exactly what the Mountaineers need.
"I see him every day. I know he can make his outside shots,'' said teammate Truck Bryant. "But honestly, he doesn't need to make [3-pointers] as long as he's scoring inside and rebounding like he is. When he does that, he's giving us a lot.''
Monday night's win, West Virginia's fourth in a row and seventh in the last eight games, gives the Mountaineers (8-2) a bit of momentum heading into the meat of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. Monday's win, and another two days earlier against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, were preliminary games in the event, which now moves to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
There, on Thursday and Friday, West Virginia will face Missouri State and then unbeaten and No. 6 Baylor, respectively. Thursday's game is an 8 p.m. (EST) start and will be available on the internet at ESPN3.com. The Friday game with Baylor is a 9 p.m. tipoff and will be televised on ESPN.
Tennessee Tech, which also moves on to Las Vegas in a different bracket, fell to 6-5 and saw its three-game win streak snapped.