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November 6, 2012

West Virginia picks up exhibition win 95-53

On the night the United States chose who would run its executive body for the next four years, West Virginia University ushered in a new era and new season of Mountaineer basketball.

Thanks in part to a monster showing by Deniz Kilicli and Juwan Staten, the Mountaineers were able to cruise by in-state opponent Glenville State fairly easily en route to a 95-53 win Tuesday at the Coliseum.

With a starting lineup consisting of Juwan Staten, Jabarie Hinds, Keaton Miles, Deniz Kilicli and Aaric Murray, the Mountaineers took control of the game from the get-go. Miles made his presence felt early in the contest, blocking a Glenville shot attempt, leading to a fast-break jumper by Staten, the first points of his WVU career.

From there the game slowed down for the Mountaineers on offense. Two out of the team's first three possessions resulted in no points, including a shot clock violation and resulting timeout from Bob Huggins.

A fire was lit under the team, however, following the timeout. The Mountaineers took advantage of a massive size difference by seeking out a low-post game early and often. The size difference played into the hand of both Kilicli and Murray, both of whom scored early and showed quite a disruptive force on defense.

Despite their best efforts, the Pioneers were unable to match up with their Division I opponent. The small Glenville State team attempted to use their speed to drive the lane on West Virginia, hoping for "pick and pop" opportunities along the way.

But a difficult West Virginia defensive presence shut down the Pioneer's game plan early on. The Mountaineers forced a number of Glenville State miscues, including 11 turnovers in the first half.

The Mountaineers had difficulty getting into an offensive rhythm through the first half, putting up only 15 points against the Division II opponent through the first eight minutes of the game. This changed during the latter part of the first half, with the offense looking to utilize their size advantage.

And the emphasis showed mightily in the box score. Kilicli finished the first half leading the Mountaineers in scoring with 15, and Murray not too far behind him with nine. Murray also contributed greatly on the glass, picking up six rebounds (three on each side) and two blocks.

Late in the first half, however, the Mountaineers seemed to stall a bit on defensive effort. The Pioneers were able to attack West Virginia's man defense with a number of uncontested jump shots.

But the effort of the Glenville State offense was unable to counteract the ability of West Virginia overall. The Mountaineers entered the locker room with a comfortable 48-22 margin.

Throughout the offseason, Coach Huggins clamored about the depth this year's squad was going to contain; something he has not had all that often in his time at WVU. In the exhibition, the coach put his words to the test early, playing every athlete on the bench throughout the first half.

When the second half got underway it appeared that Glenville State would attempt to make this a game. The Pioneers scored five quick points to start the half, three of which off a West Virginia turnover.

The prospect of a comeback did not sit well with Huggins, who called a quick timeout to rally the troops.

Coming out of the timeout, the Mountaineers played a very up-tempo offensive set while continuing to target the post. Back to back dunks by Murray and Kilicli, followed up then again by a Kilicli hook, gave the Mountaineers a quick 6-0 run in less than one minute of play.

One player who found difficulty finding his way throughout the game was Matt Humphrey. Despite leading the team in many ways during the Gold-Blue Debut scrimmage earlier this month, Humphrey went 0-4 from the field through the first portion of the game.

The senior, however, attempted to break his slump before the under 12:00 media timeout, getting a big front court steal from the Pioneers and taking it to the hole. His score extended West Virginia's lead, 70-35 as the game begun to wind down.

The Mountaineers and Pioneers would shots throughout the remainder of the contest, with Glenville actually getting the better of West Virginia for spans. But overall, the talent gap between the two squads proved too great to overcome.
Final score: West Virginia 95, Glenville State 53.

The Mountaineers were led on the stat sheet by Kilicli. The senior post man finished the game with 19 points, establishing himself as the Mountaineers' most prominent offensive threat.

Along with Kilicli, both Murray and Rutledge had big games down low, each getting 13 and seven points, respectively.
A key for Murray, however, proved to be his abilities on defense. The transfer from LaSalle made his presence known in the post, particularly with two blocks and nine rebounds.

West Virginia also received decent production from Noreen, Gerun and Miles. The trio accounted for nine, 12 and five points, respectively, and helped add to an already deep WVU bench.

Miles, however, began to show the hyped potential he arrived with last season, putting up five points, four rebounds and two blocks for the Mountaineers. The sophomore was a surprise entry in the WVU starting lineup after struggling throughout last season, but made his improvement known early for the squad.

Of the starters for West Virginia, no one struggled more than Hinds. The sophomore guard ended the first half 0-4 from the field with four turnovers in 10 minutes of play, finishing the game with similar struggles.

But fortunately for West Virginia, Staten was there to pick up the offensive slack. The transfer guard lived up to the hype in this contest, finishing second on the team with 16 points.

The sophomore transfer from Dayton also maintained a tight role as game manager for the Mountaineers, distributing the ball well and cutting out mistakes in his game. Staten led the team with six assists, coupled with no turnovers throughout the night.

Rounding out the squad: Aaron Brown finished with seven points, Humphrey with four, Gary Browne with four, Terry Henderson with three and Hinds with two points.

The Mountaineers will open up the season next Monday night at 11:59 at Gonzaga.

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