West Virginia holds off Oral Roberts 78-71

Kevin Jones scored 20 points to lead four West Virginia players

in double figures as the Mountaineers held off Oral Roberts 78-71

on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

Oral Roberts, the preseason pick to win the Summit League, gave

the Mountaineers all they could handle.

But the young Mountaineers got contributions from several

players – Darryl ”Truck” Bryant finished with 17 points, Deniz

Kilicli 11 and freshman Aaron Browne added 10.

Bryant scored West Virginia’s final eight points, including 6 of

6 from the free-throw line.

Oral Roberts, which trailed 72-71 with 2:44 to play, also had

four players in double figures: Dominique Morrison had a game-high

21 points, Michael Craion scored 18, Warren Niles 14 and Steven

Roundtree tallied 11.

West Virginia shot 58.8 percent from the field (30 of 51), but

Oral Roberts’ 22 free throws kept the Golden Eagles close

throughout. West Virginia was 13 of 17 from the foul line.

”We can’t put them on the line 30 times and us 17,” said

Mountaineer scoach Bob Huggins ”The foul disparity we can’t

have.”

Oral Roberts outscored West Virginia 10-2 to cut a 12-point

deficit to 70-66 when Bryant, playing with four fouls, went to the

line for the first of his game-ending scores. His free throws with

4:30 left gave the Mountaineers a 72-66 lead. Those would be all

the points the Mountaineers would need.

Craion, who had scored eight of the Golden Eagles’ 10 points to

pull his team close, made two free throws and teammate Niles

drained a 3-pointer to get within one.

Bryant answered for the Mountaineers. He cut through the lane

untouched for a layup that gave West Virginia a three-point

cushion. He also scored the final four points of the game.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has three returning starters,

but is working with seven new players – including six freshmen. At

times, it showed.

”There’s going to be some growing pains for them. I really

think that team’s going to be a good basketball team when it’s all

said and done,” said Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton.

The Mountaineers, who led by as many as 14 points in the first

half, were up 59-45 with 10:30 to play when the experienced Golden

Eagles started to climb back into the game. The Golden Eagles

returned six of their top seven players from last season, only

missing Ken Holdman, a guard who tore a knee ligament in an

exhibition on Sunday.

Sutton used full-court pressure to whittle down the

Mountaineers’ cushion. But West Virginia shot 60 percent in the

second half to hold on for the win.

”We don’t get outrebounded 37-24 by anybody, and that’s

ridiculous,” Huggins said. ”To have the size we have and not

rebound the ball is ridiculous. We just didn’t do a very good

job.”

Jones gave Mountaineers fans a scare when he went down after an

Browne layup that gave West Virginia a 65-54 lead with 7:55 to go.

After stretching his leg on the sideline, he returned after a

timeout and pronounced himself fit.

”I went knee-to-knee, his knee hit the side of my knee, and my

knee just like gave out for a little second; but I’m fine and

there’s no need to worry,” Jones said. ”I got right back up, so

just put some ice on it and I’ll be fine.”