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February 16, 2013
It wasn't until a three-point attempt by Josh Gray hit off the front iron and fell harmlessly onto the Coliseum floor that West Virginia was able to secure a 66-64 win over Texas Tech and head coach Bob Huggins believes that the Mountaineers were lucky to even be in that position.
That's because the Mountaineers failed to do many of the things that absolutely are a necessity to winning close basketball games.
"To go 24-41 from the foul line and turn it over 18 times and still win is really pretty remarkable," Huggins said.
The victory capped off a season sweep of the Red Raiders after winning 77-61 in Lubbock Feb. 2. Unlike that matchup this one was tight down until the final horn, and senior center Deniz Kilicli poured in career high 25-points to go along with 8 rebounds.
"Obviously Deniz played well. I think if we could pass the ball better he could have gotten 40-points," Huggins said. "He did a great job of sealing."
Kilicli put in his best effort of the season serving as a dominating force on the low block and creating matchup problems for the Red Raiders. His efforts played a large part in fouling out three separate players for Texas Tech.
The bounce back effort is something that Huggins credits to Kilicli for never quitting and although it's been rocky at times this season, his ability to draw extra attention down-low is something that helps the often offensively challenged Mountaineers.
"In a lot of instances we wouldn't score without Deniz. The other thing Deniz does is he gets other people open because they have to help," he said. "I think Eron Harris has been a recipient of Deniz having more than one guy having to guard him."
Huggins played both true freshmen Harris and Terry Henderson together on the floor more than he had in the past and while he would like to get both together more often but needs to see more development out of both players on both ends of the floor.
"They've just got to do a better job defensively and they've got to pass the ball better," he said. "I think you noticed when Deniz didn't get the ball when they were in the game together and Deniz has to get the ball," he said.
Harris struggled with balls security in the early going, but Huggins was impressed with the way the freshman responded in the second half finishing with 15-points.
When asked about his thoughts on the reception Huggins will get when he steps on the floor at Kansas State, where he coached for a single season, his answer was to the point.
"In all honesty if I had a list of 100-things to worry about that might be 112," he said.
Huggins spoke highly of Gary Browne's ability not only to get the ball into the post, but defensively.
"The guy that throws the ball to Deniz the best is Gary Browne. Gary Browne is our best defender and Gary Browne has done the best job of getting Deniz the ball," he said. "It's a tough thing to take Gary out."
The Mountaineers will practice tomorrow and then head to Manhattan for the 9 p.m. tipoff Monday.
West Virginia NEWS