Kilici’s Career Day Boosts WVU Men

MORGANTOWN – Jordan Tolbert tried and failed. Dejan Kravic tried and failed. Jaye Crockett tried too.

The truth is, no one in a Texas Tech uniform could stop West Virginia’s Deniz Kilicli on Saturday during West Virginia’s 66-64 victory at the Coliseum.

Those three all fouled out trying to slow Kilicli, who scored a career-best 25 points in a career high-tying 38 minutes in leading the Mountaineers (13-12 overall, 6-6 Big 12) to a season sweep of the Red Raiders.

Things went so well for Kilicli, he even made an 18-footer, despite four years of WVU coach Bob Huggins telling him he had a better chance of kicking one in from that distance than Kilicli did shooting one in.

Is there a new scouting report out on Deniz The Menace?

“Don’t tell other people,” Kilicli said.

Everything else came from down low as Kilicli dominated inside against the all of those flailing arms.

“They didn’t guard me the way the other teams guard me,” he said. “Whatever I was doing, I don’t even know. It was just my instincts. I just went out there and tried to do what I do in practice.”

From his seat, Huggins saw chances for well beyond 25 points for his big guy.

“If we could pass the ball better,” Huggins said, “I think he could have gotten 40.”

Even with all of that – Tech’s three best players on the bench, Kilicli making a shot from just inside the 3-point line, freshman Eron Harris scoring in double figures again – West Virginia was just careless enough with the ball and just awful enough at the free-throw line (24 of 42) that it took Josh Gray’s last-second clanging of a 3-point shot off the front of the rim for the Mountaineers to finish off the Big 12’s second-worst team.

“The truth of the matter is to go 24-for-42 from the foul line and turn it over 18 times and still win is really pretty remarkable,” Huggins said.

That’s a second straight game of 18 turnovers.

“We only had 36 in two games,” Huggins said. “If it had got to 40, I’d be concerned.”

West Virginia led by as much as 10 with 2:02 left in the first half, but with the help of 21 missed Mountaineers free throws, Texas Tech (9-14, 2-10) came all the way back to tie it at 39-39 with 13:42 left to go. WVU pushed a lead back up to eight with 3:19 left, then had to hope Gray’s shot didn’t have enough legs or it would have lost. Crockett hit one and Dusty Hannahs hit a pair of 3-pointers in that span to give the Red Raiders a chance. West Virginia made only four of them all game.

The game marked the last time WVU is scheduled to play a team below it in the Big 12 standings. The Mountaineers were able to beat all three teams below them twice – Texas Tech, Texas, and TCU – but have yet to beat anyone above them. They’ll get six more chances prior to the league tournament, beginning Monday at No. 10 Kansas State. West Virginia is 0-4 against ranked teams this season.

Harris, who has averaged 12.2 points per game in league play, scored 15 points for the Mountaineers

“I’m just playing naturally now,” Harris said. “Coaches told me to play comfortably out there, don’t think twice about anything.”

Crockett led the Red Raiders with 18 points.