One of the most puzzling things about this West Virginia team this season has been freshman forward Keaton Miles. A talented, highly touted recruit out of the prestigious Lincoln High School in Dallas, Miles was really the only freshman who received a lot of minutes who hadn’t started showing a lot of progress.
Of all the full-time starters in the nation (players who had started every game their team has played), Miles came into Saturday’s game against the Scarlet Knights averaging the second-fewest minutes per game in the country (13.7).
Miles passed that mark in the first half against Rutgers and played a career-high 29 minutes. He had his best game in a Mountaineer uniform, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds while dishing out a team season-high seven assists (tying freshman PG Jabarie Hinds’ mark he set twice this season).
For what it’s worth: the Mountaineers are 9-1 when Miles plays more than 15 minutes in a game and they’ve won all three games Miles scored more than five points in.
After having a Plus/Minus (WVU’s points scored minus opponent’s points scored while Miles was on the floor) of -6 in West Virginia’s last three games, he finished +38 against the Scarlet Knights Saturday.
When he was in high school, I got to see about four or five of Miles’ games on TV and was extremely impressed. He was comfortable on offense and defense and made a big impact every game. That wasn’t the case so far this year.
Was it hard for Miles to stay positive when he was struggling? Yes, of course it was. It would be for any freshman.
But what got him to where he could have a game like he did Saturday, and what will help him continue that throughout the rest of the season?
“(Seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant) just tell me, ‘Keaton, you have to go out there and play. Just play your game. We know you can play. We’ve seen you play.’ Even when I was down and I didn’t believe in myself, they believed in me,” Miles said after the game.
- West Virginia forced 19 turnovers against Rutgers. The Mountaineers are now 12-0 when they force 15 or more turnovers in a game.
- With is “quiet” 24 points and 14 rebounds, Kevin Jones recorded his third-straight 20-point game. It was the first time in his career he was able to accomplish that feat.
- Jones had 12 career double-doubles entering this season, Saturday was his 12th of his senior year.
- More KJ stats! Jones is the only player in the nation who averages more than 20 points and more than 10 rebounds per game. West Virginia is 6-1 when he goes for at least 20 and 10 and the only game it lost was to No. 4 Baylor (15-0 this season).
- WVU is 7-1 when Truck Bryant makes more than three 3-pointers in a game.
- The Mountaineers are 9-1 at the Coliseum now. They’re beating opponents by an average of 15.3 points per game at home.
- West Virginia is 7-1 when it scores 80 or more points in a game (once again, the only loss was to Baylor).
- The win over Rutgers was WVU’s 6th win by 20 or more points of the season. The Mountaineers have won 46 games by at least 20 points since Bob Huggins became the school’s head coach.
- West Virginia’s next game is against Marshall in the Capital Classic. The series has been closer than you think. Although WVU has won eight against Marshall since 2000, the average margin of victory for the Mountaineers is just a little bit over three points (3.16) and the Herd is coming off a four-point win last season.
- As of Sunday night, the Mountaineers are No. 12 in the RPI and Marshall is No. 33, which makes the game a quality NCAA tournament resume win when the end of the season comes around.