PoG: West Virginia - Washington

West Virginia's Kevin Jones broke out of a mini-shooting slump to record 18 points in West Virginia's 69-56 win over Washington in the NCAA Sweet 16 and earn our player of the game honors.

Jones, who had hit just four of his previous 15 three-pointers, made three of his four tries against Washington. Those scores had a bigger effect than just nine points, however. They helped create some space for West Virginia drives to the basket, and kept WVU from having to depend totally on drives and second chance points.

As usual, points were only a small part of Jones' game, however. He grabbed eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, which helped the Mountaineers to another shipping of an opponent in that category. West Virginia enjoyed a 49-29 edge in that department, and those numbers kept WVU in the game despite a horrid first half in which it turned the ball over 13 times.

For Jones, such performances are becoming routine, but when he hits a couple of threes he becomes even more difficult to guard. He overpowers smaller defenders sent to guard him outside, and he creates space and gets shots away from the perimeter against big men that can't chase him to the three-point line. Jones' play was simply too much for Washington to handle, as it couldn't find an answer for West Virginia's most fundmentally sound player.

Jones scored his 18 points on 7-12 shooting, and added an assist and a steal in 34 minutes of action. He also had just one turnover, by far the fewest of West Virginia's five players who had at least 20 minutes of playing time.


NET BURNERS

  • After struggling to score for most of the first half, head coach Bob Huggins inserted freshman Deniz Kilicli into the game, and the big Turk had an immediate impact. Trailing by 24-21 with 3:52 to play, Kilicli took a pass in the post, executed his trademark jump stop in the lane and hit a short hook shot to cut the lead to one. Less than a minute later, he got a pass on the opposite block and scored again on a jump hook in the middle of the lane. He then capped his contribution at the 1:19 mark by rebounding his own miss, creating space for a second attempt, and putting up a tough shot that tied the score at 27-all.

    In his five minutes on the floor, Kilicli scored six big points and grabbed a pair of rebounds to help give WVU's offense an inside boost. To that point, West Virginia hadn't shown much offensive continuity, and Kilicli's solid post moves and scores kept the Mountaineers in the game in the first 20 minutes.

    "With Coach Huggins, you have to be ready to play every day, and I was happy to be able to help the team," the ever-friendly Kilicli said afterward. "I have been working every day after practice [on my post moves], and trying to make them a habit."

    That they were, as the 6-10 center played strongly and scored over Washington's interior defense on all three trips in which he saw the ball.

  • John Flowers, who has gotten more mention for his Twitter videos than for his play over the past few games, came up huge for West Virginia. He's often overshadowed by the play of Butler, Jones and Ebanks, but he can be a ferocious defender and rebounder that can have a big impact on the game. That was the case against the Huskies, as Flowers came off the bench to contribute four points and five rebounds in 19 key minutes for WVU.

    "That's always been my role," Flowers said in a happy WVU locker room. "I have to be ready to do that."

    Flowers had three big defensive boards, all of which he appeared to rip down in front of potential Husky rebounders, and he also played very good defense from the paint to the perimeter. He gave West Virginia the defensive boost it needed in several key situations, and twice snatched defensive boards after close-in misses by the Huskies.

  • In a game in which the Mountaineers admittedly didn't play their best, it was a second-half defensive clampdown that sealed the win. It's not surprise to see West Virginia play good "D", but the turnaround from a first half in which it allowed Washington to hit 48% of its shots was a key in the contest. WVU limited UW to just 31% shooting in the second half, and allowed only four successful jump shots in the final 20 minutes.

    While Washington was able to do some damage with its transition game, scoring 20 points on fast breaks, the Mountaineers shut out the Huskies on putbacks. West Virginia held a 17-0 advantage in second chance points, and the zero on the right side of that stat was due largely in part to WVU's defensive dominance.


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