The Dominion Post  

Miles' defense elevates Mountaineers over Cavs

Created on:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   12:29 AM

Last modified:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   12:28 AM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — It was a play Virginia successfully used too many times for Daxter Miles Jr.’s taste.

WVU head coach Bob Huggins called it an “elevator” screen.

Whatever it was, it usually ended up as a dagger of a 3-pointer from Cavaliers sharpshooter Kyle Guy.

“We were always worried about him, but we let him get going,” Huggins said Dec, after 18th-ranked WVU knocked off 15th-ranked Virginia, 68-61, in front of 12,816 fans inside the WVU Coliseum. “We stopped guarding him.”

The result? Guy, who came in averaging 16.6 points and shooting 46 percent from 3-point range, became the Cavs’ No. 1 guy.

One 3-pointer turned into another and then another and then another and ... you see where this is going.

After starting 0 for 7 from the field, Guy connected on six straight 3s, his final coming with 4:46 remaining in the game to tie the score at 56.

“What’s going through my mind?” asked Miles, who finished with 12 points and four assists. “We need to start playing some defense on him.”

Enter Miles, who started checking Guy late in the second half and then came up with the play of the game on the defensive end.

The situation: WVU led, 63-59, with one minute left.

Virginia point guard Ty Jerome saw Guy open in the corner, one 3-pointer away from making it a one-point game.

Guy never got the opportunity.

“I saw the pass, and when I turned, I saw Dax trying to save it,” said Carter, who just missed a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. “I just tried to get as close to Dax as I could.”

Miles intercepted Jerome’s pass and somehow flipped the ball back into play before he went out of bounds.

Carter handled the flip, dribbled up the floor and was fouled. He sank both free throws for a 65-59 lead with 43 seconds left, and that sealed the game.

“Dax has put more time in this year than he has the previous three years, in terms of trying to study the game, studying the opponent and getting in the gym,” Huggins said. “They scored on that elevator screen earlier, and Dax did a great job of getting around that screen, knocking the ball down and then saving it. That was a heck of a play.”

Miles said it was simply a matter of anticipation.

“I just read the play,” he said. “I felt like they were going to try and go to Guy, because he had the hot hand, especially in the second half. I just tried to read it right.”

It was a fitting play in a match-up featuring two of the best defensive teams in the country, but two teams who excel at different styles of defense.

WVU (8-1), winner of eight straight, forced a season-low 14 turnovers, but Virginia’s methodical style of play limited the number of possessions.

The Mountaineers attempted a season-low 50 shots, but connected on 10 3-pointers.

Lamont West (22 points) had four of them, nearly answering Guy shot-for-shot in the second half.

His final 3 gave WVU a 61-56 advantage, with three minutes remaining.

“I like watching our guys make them,” Miles said. “It was fun watching Lamont go tonight.”

It was WVU’s first win over a top 25 team this season, and the program’s fifth in its last eight opportunities, dating to last season’s victory at Virginia.

The series between the two schools will not be renewed next season, according to Huggins, who said there is a possibility that it will pick back up in the near future.

To Miles, the three-game series against the Cavaliers meant, “Poised on their behalf and gutted it out on our behalf,” he said.

And as far as winning a game with a defensive play compared to winning it with a 3-pointer, Miles liked both options.

“Hey, as long as it says, ‘win,’ that’s all that matters to me,” he said.