PoG: WVU - South Florida

As a team, West Virginia didn't play its most inspired game. But a few individuals helped ensure the No. 21 Mountaineers did enough to win on Sunday afternoon against a USF team that has struggled all season long.


Deniz Kilicli.

The forward told reporters after Sunday's win that he had asked head coach Bob Huggins if he could continue to come off the bench and play as a reserve.

If that helps Kilicli play as well as he did against the Bulls, one would imagine Huggins would be all too happy to oblige.

As he often does, the sophomore provided an offensive spark when the Mountaineers needed it, scoring six of his eight points early, when both teams were struggling to light up the scoreboard.

Kilicli's combination of hook shots and jumpers freed up teammates to add their own offensive contributions and was a big reason why WVU went on an 11-0 run to take control by halftime.

But Kilicli also rebounded well, grabbing eight boards. He played decent interior defense against a widely-praised USF front line, helping to hold the Bulls to a mere 46 points -- which tied a WVU program record for fewest ever given up against a Big East Conference opponent since joining the league in the 1990s.

It was the kind of all-around performance Huggins will need from Kilicli, especially if the coach's comments that fellow sophomore big man Dan Jennings will "never be seen again, I guess" ring true.


  • Casey Mitchell.

    USF head coach Stan Heath didn't know how to explain it. Neither did Huggins. Ditto for the media members that cover West Virginia regularly.

    Mitchell had a staggering 14 rebounds -- seven on the offensive end -- to go with his 13 points on Sunday afternoon.

    Casey Mitchell
    The guard is widely perceived as a pure scorer. But Huggins has said Mitchell is at his best when he stays active, moves around the floor and attacks the rim.

    Mitchell did all of those things against South Florida, and a solid statistical line resulted even despite what was a rather ugly shooting effort from the senior (6-of-19 from the field).

    "I just told Stan that he misses so many, he knows where they're going," Huggins said, jokingly, of his explanation of Mitchell's rebounding effort to Heath.

    That apparently wasn't good enough for the Bulls' coach, who said would have to review the film to see how his team allowed the shooting guard to grab so many boards.

    This is precisely the kind of game Mitchell wouldn't have been capable of playing a year ago. When the shots weren't falling, Mitchell typically was lousy in other areas as well. Now, he's a better player overall -- and West Virginia is a better team as a for it.

  • Cam Thoroughman.

    The final score should have said it all: 56-46. This type of game was just up Thoroughman's alley.

    Indeed, Thoroughman had one of his signature statistical lines -- one of those box scores that do nothing to show everything the senior does for his team.

    He didn't score a point. He attempted only one shot. But he grabbed four rebounds, had four assists a block and a steal. He didn't turn the ball over, and he played hard-nosed defense, picking up another four fouls in 23 minutes of action.

    But again, Thoroughman was there to set key screens. He was there to make big defensive plays. He was there to distribute the ball where it needed to go when it needed to get there.

    There's a reason Huggins respects Thoroughman as much as he does despite the flaws in his offensive game. If the forward continues to play as a starter, WVU might continue to win games like Sunday's in equally ugly fashion.

    But make no mistake -- Thoroughman is definitely capable of helping the Mountaineers win.

  • Attitude matters.

    Thoroughman and fellow senior Joe Mazzulla called a meeting on the back of WVU's team bus ride back to Morgantown after its loss to Marshall on Wednesday night.

    The forward said he and Mazzulla went around to each player on the team in turn and had them say what they needed to do to help right the ship in what has been a rockier-than-expected season.

    Finally, Huggins said, his team is starting to get some leadership.

    "I've always had people step up and lead," Huggins said, before admitting that, up until now, that really hasn't happened in the 2010-11 season.

    "If you get out there in a boat and you've got a couple guys rowing in the wrong direction, they just screw things up ... Guys that don't want to have teammates need to play golf and tennis ... When you're a member of a team, you've got responsibilities.

    "You've just got to get everybody rowing in the same direction. That's the best analogy I can give you. You just can't have guys trying to do their own thing. It just doesn't work in team sports."

    Perhaps that's why Jennings is, at least for now, not a part of the Mountaineer program. There was talk immediately after Sunday's game that there have been attitude issues with the big man in practice for weeks now.

    It appears as though players might be held accountable for their poor attitude. And if that means some players have to find the nearest exit, apparently, that's just fine with Huggins.

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