The Big Three

West Virginia head basketball coach Bob Huggins said earlier this season that the Mountaineers would be pretty good in a three-on-three game.

WVU has proven that this season, as the trio of senior guard Truck Bryant, senior forward Kevin Jones and junior forward Deniz Kilicli has been consistent and game-changing.

Indeed, I'd pick those three in a lot of three-on-three battles.

Like Huggins said, however, the Mountaineers can't play with only three on the court. Well, they could … but it'd be uglier than the WVU Coliseum crowd on Monday night.

Including the 72-53 victory over Tennessee Tech, the Mountaineers' "big three" of Bryant, Jones and Kilicli have now scored in double-figures in every game this season.

"I don't know where you've heard that term. It wasn't from us," Jones said jokingly after the game. "We're just out there doing our part.

That's some consistency.

"We need other contributions, but it doesn't have to be scoring," Jones said. "We have to carry most of the scoring. To have some people come and take the pressure off would be nice, though."

On Monday night, WVU was able to get solid games for all three of its top players.

Jones finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds – his sixth double-double of the season. Bryant had 15 points and Kilicli finished with 12 points.

"We're the leaders of the team, so we're expected to score in tough times," Jones said. "We're becoming more comfortable in that role … It's no problem for us to go out and help our team."

Huggins has said over and over again this season that West Virginia needs two of the three to have good games for the Mountaineers to win on any given night.

In just about every game, they've gotten that – and that's the biggest key to a somewhat surprising 8-2 start to the season heading into a two-game trip to Las Vegas.

Many will see the offensive numbers and understand why those three are considered to be the "big three." But, Bryant, Jones and Kilicli are also getting it done on the defensive side for the most part.

Jones is and will always be a consistent defender. Bryant and Kilicli have improved immensely this season – particularly Bryant who has taken over the role as shutdown defender from the guard position.

"This is just what's expected of us," Jones said. "It doesn't surprise me that we're leading the team. That was supposed to be a given."

It's fairly obvious that without Bryant, Jones and Kilicli in the game and scoring, the Mountaineers struggle to do so themselves.

Outside of the trio's 30 double-scoring games, the other players on the roster have hit at least 10 points just eight times.

Sure, there are players with the potential to put up points like freshmen Aaron Brown, Jabarie Hinds, Gary Browne and Paul Williamson. But, it's not going to happen on a consistent basis with them.

It will be interesting to see how consistent the "big three" can be during Big East Conference play. There are better, more athletic teams that can play a lick of defense.

Bryant and Kilicli haven't been the most consistent in their careers, so it will be monumental if they can find a way to have an off night when the other has a good game.

Two of three will win most games for WVU. But, for the Mountaineers to be really good, they need all three of the "big three" to be on point.


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