The Dominion Post  

West recalls big moment against Virginia

Created on:   Sun, Dec 3, 2017   6:56 PM

Last modified:   Sun, Dec 3, 2017   6:56 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — No disrespect to any early-season opponents the WVU men’s basketball team faced last season, but they’e not exactly on Lamont West’s radar anymore.

The Virginia game is a little different.

That’s where West’s career got its first official sendoff.

“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” West said. “That’s probably the first big moment for me.”

WVU traveled to Charlottesville, Va., last season and ended the Cavaliers’ 24-game home winning streak with a 66-57 victory.

Then a redshirt freshman, West played just nine minutes of that game, but found himself on the floor late in the second half in crunch time.

At just under the five-minute mark, and with the game tied at 49, Huggins signaled a play in from the bench.

Not for Jevon Carter, Esa Ahmad or Nathan Adrian, but for West, who had connected on all of just five 3-pointers for his career at that point.

As it turns out, Huggins later said he wanted to run that play for Adrian, but, “He was kind of struggling at that point.”

So, the idea was to take a look at West, who made 3 of 4 shooting attempts against the Cavaliers — “What do they say, desperate times call for desperate measures?” Huggins later joked. — and West’s 3-pointer from the corner gave WVU a 52-49 lead with 4:37 remaining.

“That was my first big game where I was called on to make shots,” West said.

It will be a much different West the Cavaliers will see at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5, when 18th-ranked Virginia (8-0) travels to 19th-ranked WVU (7-1).

No longer is West an inexperienced freshman, just looking to find a role with his team.

No longer is West just considered a streaky shooter without much to add but an outside shot.

“I think he’s already shown he can do a lot of different things for us,” Carter said. “He’s still a good shooter, but he can also drive it to the basket and he can help us rebound and play defense.”

Scoring in transition or putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket aren’t exactly new to West.

He put in a lot of work to those parts of his game over the summer, while also adding bulk and strength to his 6-foot-8 frame.

In transition, West has shown off a sort of European-style side-step to get around defenders in the lane.

“I do it when I can,” said West, who is averaging 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season. “I don’t think about it. It just happens. I actually did that a lot in high school.

“If I see someone [setting up for a charge], my first thing is to get around them. I don’t want to try and power through someone, unless they’re inside the charge circle.”

In WVU’s 102-69 victory against New Jersey Institute of Technology last week, West also hauled in a pass from Carter along the baseline, and instead of putting up a contested shot near the corner, he spun through two defenders and went with a shot off the glass from a few feet away.

“Teams have scouting reports to stop our shooters,” West said. “It doesn’t always work out the way they plan.

“I wasn’t even trying to shoot it off the glass. It just went in.”

It’s those areas to his game Huggins would like to see West continue to develop.

“I want him to take what the defense gives him,” Huggins said. “That’s the whole battle: Exploit what they give you. I want him to be able to pass the ball when he draws two people.

“I think he’s our best finisher. The problem is he doesn’t get there that often to finish.”