Kevin Jones came off the bench to record a double double and help propel West Virginia to a 104-82 win over Mountain State on Sunday.
Jones was excellent in his usual role as the first player off the Mountaineer bench. Upon entering the game, he immediately cut to the basket for a close in score, and continued to exert his presence on both ends in WVU's win.
"He is a guy that can change the game," head coach Bob Huggins said of Jones' play.
Jones made eight of his ten shots, including one from three-point range, and converted four of six free throws to account for 21 points. He also snared ten rebounds, including four on the offensive end, and added an assist and a steal in just 20 minutes of action. While Jones could easily be a starter on this talented Mountaineer squad, his contributions in his current role are simply too valuable to change.
"I never put a whole lot of stock in who starts," Huggins said. "It's who plays the minutes and who is in at the end of the game."
Count on seeing that from Jones as the season progresses.
In a game which could have quickly devolved into a garbage time, one-on-one contest, West Virginia kept its offense running, albeit not always smoothly, and shared the ball well. Every player on the roster got into the game, and although the efficiency of play dropped off when the newcomers and walk-ons played, there was no "hunting for shots" or "getting mine" in evidence. That bodes well for a team that could see as many as ten players in key roles this year.
Devin Ebanks was again excellent, and could easily have been the player of the game. Ebanks didn't force any action, ran the offense smoothly, and finished with his own double-double of 19 points and ten rebounds. He also had four steals and a block, and showed the sort of maturity that West Virginia will need in crunch time of tight games.
Deniz Kilicli showed why some many scouts were high on him as a prep prospect. The Turkish import was mobile in the lane on offense, scoring eight points on a variety of moves, but the biggest surprise was his defense. Kilicli bodied up and played physically, and although Mountain State didn't have anyone of his size and stature, it was still good to see him working so hard on his defensive game. He grabbed six rebounds, blocked two shots and snared a steal in 19 minutes of action, and although he won't play again until the exhibition game against Charleston, showed that he has the ability to help on both ends of the floor.
"I think he has the talent to be an all-first team Big East selection," Huggins said in assessing his talent. Of course, that's somewhere down the road, but it speaks volumes of the progress Kilicli has made to date, and what he could achieve in the future.