Kilicli sparks WVU win vs. Texas
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 07:02
Deniz Kilicli is the only remaining player from the 2010 West Virginia Final Four team.
And to begin the 2012-2013 Mountaineer season, he was the face of the program.
But after a senior slump from early December to late January, the Istanbul, Turkey, native saw his playing decrease drastically.
"It was just a mind thing," said Jabarie Hinds, West Virginia sophomore guard. "It was just mental parts of his game."
After back-to-back impressive performances from the Mountaineers’ senior leader, it appears Kilicli has fixed those minor problems.
Kilicli scored 14 points and snatched four rebounds in West Virginia’s 60-58 victory against Texas Monday night, including a three-point play in a one-point game with three minutes to play.
"I thought he was terrific. (He was) so much more active," Huggins said. "I think the last two games have been the best two all-around games he’s played."
Kilicli, however, feels his teammates and Huggins may be looking too far into the catalyst of his sudden improvement in play.
"It’s just luck. It’s going in," Kilicli said. "It’s bad luck when it doesn’t go in and good luck when it goes in."
Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: the Mountaineers are a much better basketball team when their senior forward is playing at a high level.
Kilicli’s scoring presence on the low block forces opposing defense to send more defenders his way, ultimately opening up outside opportunities for wing players.
"He’s a force down low," said Hinds, who scored 14 points Monday night. "When he’s making shots down there, it opens stuff up for us. So that’s a plus for us."
Freshman wing player Eron Harris agrees with Hinds.
"That’s just great for our team," Harris said. "He’s getting his confidence right, and that’s all of what it was about. Today was a big confidence builder for him."
The change in play for Kilicli did have a more drastic change than simply luck, though.
"All the things I’ve done, I’ve just dummied them down. And I’ve tried to get something out of it," he said.
After scoring 21 points in the Capital Classic against Marshall Dec. 5, Kilicli scored in double figures just once after that until Jan 23.
He’s just looking to help the team in any way he can.
"I want to win. I don’t want to go to the NIT or CBI or whatever the hell it is," Kilicli said. "I don’t want to go to that in my senior year. I’m trying to do things right."
Kilicli and his teammates have rebounded from losing five of six games with two-straight victories.
West Virginia will need to make quite the run if it wants to make the NCAA tournament for the sixth-consecutive season.
But Kilicli just wants to keep things simple for now.
"I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing," he said. "It works sometimes. It won’t work sometimes."