CHARLESTON - It may very well be only the fourth game of the season, but West Virginia University's men's basketball team is already beginning to develop the roles that could lead it back into the NCAA tournament in March.
A development that took one more step Tuesday night at the Civic Center as WVU improved to 3-1 on the season with an 83-48 win over Morehead State (1-3).
"Definitely," explained senior guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant. "We are beginning to jell as a team and the younger guys are beginning to understand their roles and accept them."
West Virginia’s Keaton Miles guards Morehead State’s Terrance Hill Tuesday in Charleston. The Mountaineers won, 83-48.
WVU jumped out to an 18-4 lead after the game's first six minutes and never looked back. The Mountaineers return to action against Akron back at the Coliseum at 7 p.m. on Nov. 28.
"We needed this game," continued Bryant, who 14 points, four assists and three steals with only a pair of turnovers.
"This is just another confidence builder for our freshmen.
"I was a freshman once and I remember how it was to be one."
Senior Kevin Jones paced four Mountaineers in double figures with 23-points. Bryant chipped in with 14 while junior Deniz Kilicli and freshman Gary Browne added 10 points apiece.
Jones, the school's all-time leader in offensive rebounds added a game-high 10 rebounds (three offensive) to finish with another double-double on the season.
"Kevin is just doing everything the right way," said Bryant. "He is such a great rebounder that it makes teams back off on him and that opens up the outside shot for the rest of us."
Something the Mountaineers took great advantage of as the old gold and blue connected on 8-of-20 attempts from behind the arc (40 percent). For the game, WVU shot 28-of-53 for 52.8 percent at a venue that hasn't always been friendly the team's shooters.
"We were able to play fast at times," said Jones. "Sometimes we played too fast and made silly mistakes, but we are getting better at getting the ball off of the boards and getting it down the court for easy shots."
West Virginia took a 39-22 lead at the intermission, but quickly expanded that to 29, thanks to an 18-6 run to open the final 20 minutes of action.
Bryant got things rolling with a triple from the right of the free throw line and Jones followed that with a layin off of a Kilicli pass to get the spurt started.
A Lamont Austin layup at the 18:22 mark slowed the run, but six straight points in the paint, two free throws by Jones a layup by Aaron Brown, and a three-point play by Jones was more than enough to subdue the stubborn, but out-manned Eagles.
Senior guard Terrence Hill led Morehead State with a game-high 24 points, but he was the only Eagle to reach double figures as WVU's defense clamped down as Drew Kelly and Ty Proffitt, the team's next two leading scorers, were held to a combined six points.
Freshman Jabarie Hinds and Aaron Brown chipped in eight and seven points, respectively, while former-Logan standout Paul Williamson brought the Civic Center crowd to its feet when he hit both of his shot opportunities from behind the 3-point line.
"It (our youth) is still unpredictable at times, but it is improving," said Jones. "It has come along, but it also has a long way to go before we are ready to compete with the best teams in the Big East."