MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s Juwan Staton made a layup with five seconds left Saturday to hand the Mountaineers a 68-67 victory over Virginia Tech, but it was the bench that came through for coach Bob Huggins’ bunch, outscoring the Hokies’ reserves 36-4.
One of the reserves, in particular, Kevin Noreen, enjoyed his first double-double of a three-year career that has been injury-plagued. Noreen, who earned a medical redshirt in 2011-12, made the first two 3-pointers of a college career that has been spent mainly rebounding, passing and playing tenacious defense.
Staten, who had missed all five of his shots in the first 33 minutes, came through when it was needed.
Erick Green’s (23 points) missed a last-second jumper for Virginia Tech’s (7-1) first loss of the season. West Virginia is 4-3.
Staten got an inbounds pass from under Tech’s basket. He waltzed through a series of arms and legs in the lane and ultimately made the shot without being touched. He had tried a similar shot with 9 seconds to go, but it rimmed out. The ball was awarded the Mountaineers because the referees ruled it out-of-bounds on the Hokies.
Robert Brown scored 21 for the Hokies. Noreen had 14 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots in 33 minutes.
“Not a lot of people know this. I actually have the third most makes for 3s in Minnesota history,” Noreen said. “That was how I played in high school. That’s all I did was shoot 3s. It’s in my pedigree. Just to bring it back today, it felt really good.”
At Minneapolis Transitions School, a charter school in the state’s largest city, Noreen was voted Mr. Basketball. He set state records for career points (3,534) and rebounds in six years on the varsity high-school basketball team.
At WVU, he averaged 1.3 points per game.
“I don’t know; it was just one of those days,” Noreen said. “Coach was just saying we needed this win. This was supposed to be our springboard into the rest of the season; this was a make-or-break game for us, and I must have taken that intrinsically, and it just translated out on the court,” Noreen said.
Said Huggins: “I think if there are kids out there that want to be a basketball player, he’s a great role model. He doesn’t play above the rim, he can’t rebound above the rim, and he’s got to shoot 1,000 shots a day.
“Over the years I’ve had some great, great guys. I mean some absolutely wonderful guys, and hard-working guys. I don’t know that I’ve ever had anybody put more time in than what Kevin Noreen puts in.”
Aaric Murray had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Eron Harris scored 10.
The Mountaineers shot 10 of 24 on 3-pointers, making their most since Dec. 12, 2011. Murray was 1 of 3 on 3s.
WVU outrebounded Virginia Tech 49-38.
“They made shots but at the end of the day we had the lead,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “They had to make a play (by Staten), and they had to go all the way to the basket. But they did a good job. Those guys shot the ball with confidence and made shots they haven’t been making all year,” Johnson said.
After leading 30-24 at intermission, West Virginia made just 2-of-14 field goals to open the second half and trailed 40-36 on two Green free throws with 13:28 remaining.
In the second half, Green scored nine of his team’s first 18 points.
Virginia Tech had been averaging 85 points per game, third nationally, when the day began. The Hokies were also 25th nationally in field goal percentage (48.3) and 24th in 3-point percentage (40.4).
Saturday, they hit 27 of 65 shots (41.5 percent), but only 5 of 18 3-pointers.
“It was a very good game,” Johnson said. “Our guys fought; their guys fought. We showed a lot of heart battling back from adversity. We were right there, we had our chances. We didn’t make a couple of plays that we needed to make down the stretch. They made the play to win the game,” Johnson said.