Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The West Virginia University men's basketball team closes out a win in the Oliver Garden against a hot shooting Eastern Kentucky Colonels squad, 74-67.
While the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky usually shoots around 36% from three, they kept themselves in the game in the second half by going 42%. The Colonels took it to the Mountaineers in the second half cutting their once 16-point lead down to two and then eventually leading with only four minutes left to play. The Eastern Kentucky push was lead by Glenn Cosey with a team high 21 point performance including hitting five from three point range.
The big story of this game was the Mountaineer free-throw shooting weathering the Eastern Kentucky three point barrage by going 32-of-39 from the stripe. While the home fans are used to seeing WVU shoot their 70% average with foul shots, the EKU free throw performance lead to 82% and truly kept the Mountaineers on top for the waning minutes of the second half.
It would be a crime not to praise not only Aaric Murray with his 17 rebounds, Juwan Staten's 17 points, but also Gary Browne equaling that 17 points and pulling down a near double-double 9 rebounds. All three of these Mountaineers shown heart in the victory. It is also worth noting that both Rutledge and Kilicli played well on the box against the Colonels, but this does not say much considering the EKU size.
The Mountaineers end this nonconference home stretch with three wins, something that was crucial to keep the NCAA Tournaments hopes alive. Losing any one of the three would have led to a faster closing door on an at-large bid heading into January. With the 7-5 record, WVU continues to search for notable wins to build their resume and now find themselves in conference play. It will be extremely important for WVU to win their home games and pick up a few on the road. If the Mountaineers can hold a .500 record going into the conference tournament, the hopes for March will be alive and well.