Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WVU BASKETBALL ; MOUNTAINEER SHOCK TROOPS; WVU Bench Overwhelms with Former Starters, Leading Scorer

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WVU BASKETBALL ; MOUNTAINEER SHOCK TROOPS; WVU Bench Overwhelms with Former Starters, Leading Scorer

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN - Sometime after Bob Huggins took his first Division I head coaching job at Akron for the 1983-84 season, a guard who started the year before stopped by his new coach's office. "I could play better if you were more positive, the player said.

"I'd be a lot more positive if you were a better player, Huggins replied.

Little has changed with regard to Huggins and how he treats playing time through the years, and 32 seasons later he's again faced with questions, concerns or possibly just convenience with No. 14 West Virginia.

Only once before has a WVU team enjoyed more than the 69 bench points that keyed Monday night's win against No. 17 Iowa State. Never before had a Mountaineers reserve scored more than Jaysean Paige's 34 points that led the way in the 97-87 win.

But the bench was stacked against the Cyclones. Paige leads the team in scoring and shot attempts. Tarik Phillip made six 3- pointers Monday - as many as he had all of last season - and has made 30 of 59 attempts since starting the season 0 for 12.

They are two of the team's best players, but they are regular reserves. Jon Holton and Daxter Miles are both important, but they had not been backups.

Holton started until he missed four games on suspension and Miles started until he missed two games with a strained right hamstring.

Holton came off the bench for the fourth consecutive game - and the only four times in his WVU career - and chased a double-double against Iowa State. Miles returned from his absence and was a substitute for the first time in his career. He scored three points but was a disruptive defensive presence.

"He was fine, Huggins said of Miles. "He was winded, but he was fine.

There may now be some permanence to all of this. Miles wasn't fit enough to handle his normal role, and he could be ready to start in Saturday's game (6 p.m., ESPNU) at Oklahoma State. Holton seems fated to stay on the bench, where he's played well while new starter Nathan Adrian has continued to perform.

"I thought Nate came in and played well and played with a lot of confidence [when Holton was suspended], Huggins said. …

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