The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 31, 2012

Back on track

Staten, Browne lead WVU past Eastern Kentucky

MORGANTOWN — There was a moment in the first half of what would become West Virginia’s 74-67 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday afternoon before 8,123 fans trying to find a diversion after Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl disaster when Coach Bob Huggins actually had a warm feeling come over him.

This has been a trying year for him in trying to create the type of team that he wants and he’s running out of time to get to that point, with his next game the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma.

So here he was, leading by upward of 16 points and playing the game as he envisioned it being played.

“I started thinking we were beginning to look like my team again,” he said.

His team is a team that plays tight, physical defense, that runs when it can run, that hits the boards hard and that makes a lot of shots.

Those halftime statistics showed him leading, 35-22, holding the opponents to just eight first-half field goals and 27.6 percent shooting while his team had a 23-15 rebounding lead and was shooting a respectable 46.4 percent from the floor.

“Soon as I start thinking like that they come out and shoot 63 percent in the second half,” Huggins said.

That’s correct. Even a six-point first-half advantage can’t be considered safe, not the way this team is playing. Indeed, with 4:21 remaining in the game Eric Stutz hit a pair of free throws to put EKU back in front at 63-61.

It took Aaric Murray to hit a shot inside to tie the game at 63-63 and then for the lead to be reobtained from a most unexpected source.

Dominique Rutledge, struggling along with just 37.1 percent free throws made entering the game, was put into the game by Huggins despite that.

Why would he chance that?

“We weren’t going to throw him the ball,” Huggins admitted. “He was in there to rebound and play defense.”

Of course, he almost immediately was fouled but stepped up calmly and canned two free throws.

Moments later he grabbed a rebound and was fouled.

No sweat; he made one of two free throws, then moments later after Eastern had scored, he slipped a nifty pass to Murray for a layup and a 63-63 tie.

Following a turnover, the ball again found its way into Rutledge’s hands and he was fouled, making one of two for a 64-63 lead and he wasn’t done yet, grabbing off an offensive rebound and being fouled and making two free throws.

Count ’em up. From 4:58 until 2:34 he grabbed two rebounds, had an assist and made five of six free throws. West Virginia led, 66-63, and would never cede that lead again.

You talk to players and they all carry praise for Rutledge, but with a qualifier.

“He was always a rebounder,” Deniz Kilicli said. “Go ask K.J. He was here today. He’s the hardest guy to block out ... when he wants to be.”

That is always what you hear ... when he wants to be.

Rutledge doesn’t get that, though.

“There are certain times in the game my team needs me to bring certain things. I try to bring the intensity I don’t see on the court. I try to make the extra pass. It has a lot to do with what I see when I’m on the sideline,” he said.

“But every game I try to bring my hard hat. I figure if I work harder than anybody else, everything else will come.”

WVU actually won this game at the free throw line, hitting a season-high 32 in a season-high 39 attempts.

Juwan Staten and Gary Browne shared high-scoring honors with 17 points each, Staten a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line and Browne hitting 10 of 11.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads