MORGANTOWN - Kevin Jones had a flying WV shaved into his head prior to Tuesday's Senior Night game against DePaul, saying he wanted to show how much the state and university mean to him.
If the state and university want to return the favor, they might have to carve Jones' likeness into the Mount Rushmore of West Virginia basketball.
Jones, who has played more minutes in a WVU uniform than anyone but Da'Sean Butler and owns three of the top four offensive rebounding seasons in school history, scored 22 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in the Mountaineers' 92-75 dismantling of the Blue Demons, (11-18 overall, 2-15 Big East), who lost their ninth straight. It was his 19th double-double of the season.
West Virginia seniors Darryl Bryant, left, and Kevin Jones are honored prior to an NCAA college basketball game at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va., on Tuesday
In addition to all of his other accolades, Jones is about to become just the third player in history to lead the Big East in scoring and rebounding (St. John's Walter Berry in 1989 and Notre Dame's Troy Murphy in 2000). He is averaging 20 and 11.2 per game.
Jones and fellow senior Truck Bryant, who along with Devin Ebanks, made up Bob Huggins' first recruiting class upon his return to WVU, each played a big part in Tuesday's victory, as they'd done so many times. Tuesday was the 94th victory the duo has been a part of in Mountaineers uniforms.
Bryant finished with 28 points, his 83rd career game scoring in double figures.
''I feel like when both of us are clicking, the whole team's clicking,'' said Bryant, who admitted to having to push a lot of memories aside to maintain focus after getting a big ovation prior to the tip. ''K.J.'s getting 20 (points) a game and I'm getting about 17 but at the end of the day, that's not important to me and K.J. The important thing to us is to win. And we've been winning since we've been here.''
Bryant, who ranks third on the school's all-time games started list at 120 (behind Johannes Herber and J.D. Collins), was 12 of 16 from the free-throw line and hit a pair of 3-pointers in his last go-round at the Coliseum, where the Mountaineers finished 10-6 and snapped a four-game home skid.
''Those guys have had terrific college careers,'' DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said of Jones and Bryant. ''Truck not only scores but he solidifies their offense. Jones just dominated the paint.''
West Virginia (18-12, 8-9), which won for just the third time in its last 10 games anywhere, led wire-to wire against the Blue Demons, including 11-0 to start. The Mountaineers held a 47-31 advantage at halftime, with the lead reaching 17 before DePaul cut it to six after Brandon Young hit a pair of free throws after a technical foul was assessed to the WVU bench with 3:52 left. From there, the Mountaineers outscored the Blue Demons, 14-4.
''In the first half, we guarded good,'' Huggins said. ''Then you get a 16-point lead and you have all of that youth and I didn't think we played with the same kind of enthusiasm to start the second half, and then I kind of said, 'are we going to do this again?' Then we turned it up again. We made some plays defensively that we haven't been making.''
In the second half, West Virginia eventually upped its lead to 25 with 1:41 left on a layup by Keaton Miles, who totaled five points and seven rebounds and received a rare compliment from Huggins, who suggested it might have been Miles' best game to date.
Jabarie Hinds added 14 points and four assists for the Mountaineers, who close the regular season at noon Saturday against South Florida.
Cleveland Melvin and Young each scored 21 points to pace the Blue Demons.