Bolden Nets 13 In First Career Start
MORGANTOWN — Sophomore James ‘Beetle’ Bolden came to West Virginia University with the moniker of being an outstanding shooter.
Throughout his first 49 games with the Mountaineers, the Kentucky native continued to show flashes of the shooter that averaged 19.2 points per game as a senior at Holmes High School in Covington.
Yet, he has had a hard time earning a spot in the Mountaineers’ starting five. Especially with seniors Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. electing to complete their collegiate careers in Morgantown following last year’s Sweet 16 appearance.
But, patience can be a virtue and Bolden’s time finally arrived Saturday when the No. 15-ranked Mountaineers looked to break out of their resent slump against visiting Kansas State.
With Miles Jr. still recovering from an illness which caused him to miss the Iowa State game and sophomore Chase Harler’s sporadic play, veteran coach Bob Huggins called upon the services of his 6-footer Bolden.
“I didn’t really know until coach (Huggins) called out our names,” Bolden said. “I just assumed that since my name was one of the five he said that I was starting.”
His response was nearly immediate as his rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Wesley Harris ended up in his first bonus bucket of the game 29 seconds later as WVU raced out to a 7-3 advantage in the game’s first few minutes.
“I went into the game trying to give our team the same energy I try to give it when I come off the bench,” the sophomore said. “We are ‘Press Virginia’ and we take a lot of pride in the energy we bring on defense.”
The third year Mountaineer wasn’t done, however.
Three-pointer No. 2 came at the 12:54 mark and kept the WVU lead at five, 18-13, while his third 3-pointer pushed the WVU lead to 29-22 with 7:36 left in the half.
But, Bolden’s contributions wasn’t only in the scoring column as he finished the first 20 minutes with an assist, a steal, a rebound and a blocked shot as the hosts took a nine-point, 39-30, lead into the locker rooms at the intermission.
“Beetle (Bolden) came in (Friday) pretty much out of the hospital,” Huggins explained. “But, he said that he was ready to play and because of attrition we needed him to play.
“D’Angelo (Hunter) is not a point guard. Chase (Harler) is not really a point guard. And, I thought we needed another ball handler against them.”
The decision paid off as the Mountaineers were able to control the Wildcats offense and hit some shots of their own enroute to an 89-51 victory.
“Beetle hit a big shot early that kind of got us going,” Huggins said. “We have not shot the ball well. That’s not a secret. So, having him and some of the other guys hit some shots really got us going.”
Bolden added four more points in the second half and one assist.
Leading the team in scoring and rebounding was sophomore Sagaba Konate — 19 points and nine caroms. Freshman Teddy Allen added 12 points and junior college transfer Wesley Harris chipped in with 10 as WVU improved to 17-6 overall and 6-4 in Big 12 play with a huge game at Oklahoma slated for Monday at 9 p.m.
Cameron’s Logan Routt saw nine minutes of action, scoring three points and hauling down four rebounds while Harler went 0 of 2 from the arc in five minutes of action.