Kilicli doing his part

MORGANTOWN – Deniz Kilicli, who scored in double digits in four of the last five games, continues to perform well for the West Virginia men’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-9, 260-pound senior forward from Istanbul, Turkey, had a career-high 25 points and eight rebounds in last Saturday’s 66-64 victory over Texas Tech at home. Then, two nights later, he led the team with 16 points in a 71-61 loss at 13th-ranked Kansas State.

“I thought Deniz was open quite a few times,” coach Bob Huggins said after the Texas Tech game. “We’ve got to pass the ball better.”

Kilicli was sharp in his shooting both of those nights. He was 9-for-11 in field goals on Saturday and 6-for-8 on Monday. He scores mostly around the basket.

“I thought he was open quite a few times,” Huggins said. “We’ve got to get the ball to the big fella more. Obviously, he played very well (against Texas Tech).”

For 26 games this year, Kilicli is averaging 8.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 48.9 percent from the field while playing an average of 23.3 minutes per game.

“I think we have been struggling,” Kilicli said. “So I just go out there and try to do (in a game) what I do in practice.”

With only five regular-season games remaining, he still believes the Mountaineers have a shot at postseason play – the National Invitational Tournament if not the NCAA.

They also have the Big 12 Conference Tournament in which to play one or more games.

“We’ve just got to win more games,” he said.

West Virginia’s record is 13-13 overall and 6-7 in the Big 12 standings.

The last time WVU had a losing season was 2002-03, when it finished 14-15 in John Beilein’s first year as head coach.

“I believe this team is capable of winning more games,” Kilicli said. “Everybody’s got to help and I’m going to try to do my best every game.

“We’ll see what happens.”

Huggins said, “Deniz is the best guy on ball-screening. We ask him to do a whole lot of stuff.

“He’s our best guy in helping scorers. Deniz also helps people get open because they have to help. He’s the only big guy who untraps a ball scorer.

“He’s a talented, talented guy.”

The Mountaineers return home to play Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. Saturday in the WVU Coliseum.

The Cowboys won 80-66 in the earlier meeting on Jan. 6 at Oklahoma State.

Kilicli readily admits that it’s been a tough grind this winter. So much so, he plans to take a vacation when the school year ends.

He’s deserving of that.