Miles Finds Stroke

It was a similar stat sheet for West Virginia on Saturday in the Mountaineers' 84-60 blowout of Rutgers.

Seniors Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones had a combined 42 points. WVU forced 19 turnovers and had more rebounds than the Scarlet Knights, as well.

There was really nothing new – except for one thing.

Freshman forward Keaton Miles, for the first time in Big East Conference play, scored more than two points in the game. In addition, he had an impact on the game with a career-high seven assists.

"I was going through a slump, and to get out of that slump, you just have to work hard," Miles said. "When your confidence is down, you don't feel like yourself. The support system here has been great. They keep telling me I can do it."

Miles, in the preseason media guide, was described as a player that "attacks the basket." That's not something that we necessarily saw from him this season.

Miles is from the storied Dallas Lincoln High School basketball program where he played for coach Leonard Bishop.

He had earned Texas boys Class 4A all-state honors as a senior in high school after averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds per game. Not only was he a solid defensive performer, but he could score, too.

He averaged a double-double as a junior in high school, as well.

When I watched Miles play in the summer, he had scoring ability. He took jumpers with confidence and made a good amount in the Pittsburgh Pro-Am games. Honestly, he was probably the most consistent offensive player out of the group.

So, when he came to WVU and struggled to score, it surprised me a bit. Prior to Saturday's win over Rutgers, Hinds didn't score in 10 of the team's 17 games. For a starter, that just doesn't seem right.

Then again, Miles doesn't necessarily have to score. He is on the floor to be a defensive stopper similar to what former Mountaineer John Flowers was for the team a year ago.

"Usually I've taken more shots. Here I haven't taken as many shots in games," Miles said. "You've just got to know what your role is. I have to wait my turn … I know that.

"I know that I can score, but that's not my role right now. If I can score, I'm going to, but I know that playing defense and rebounding will always be there."

Sure, his six-point effort on Saturday afternoon doesn't seem like much compared to a normal night from Bryant or Jones, but prior to this game in Big East play, Miles had just four points.

He played 17 minutes in the first half, and he hadn't played more than 17 minutes in an entire game since back on Dec. 8 vs. Kansas State – and that as you may remember went into double-overtime.

He's the type of player that – in a close game – may need to score a point or two down the stretch to win West Virginia a Big East contest.

"He's just doing his job, and he's stuck with it," Jones said. "He's kept a positive attitude and has kept on working. I'm very proud of him for that."

WVU wants to have its best defenders on the floor at all times, and Miles would be one of those players.

When he is able to score or dish the ball like he was on Saturday, he becomes a multi-dimensional player – something he hasn't been for much of this season.


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