For the first time in his WVU basketball career, Daxter Miles came off the bench in a game.
It’s not a coincidence that the Mountaineers not only won its last game against Iowa State, but was powered by its bench players.
Of course, Jaysean Paige and Tarik Phillip filled their roles as backup guards well, but Miles was in a new position. But like Paige and Phillip, Miles thrived.
After missing games with a lower body injury, Miles was back in the WVU rotation in Tuesday’s win over the Cyclones.
Miles sat for the past two games before the Iowa State game, two losses. The Mountaineers fell to Texas and Oklahoma because they just couldn’t find their shooting stroke.
With Miles back, the WVU offense flourished. The bench accounted for 69 points as Paige had 34 and Phillip had 22. Miles only had three points in 13 minutes of play, but his presence certainly helped his team.
It was that added depth that keyed the Mountaineers over the Cyclones, who had just 10 bench points.
"“If we keep getting 69 off the bench with those guys, it’s probably a good idea,” Huggins said about keeping the lineup the way it is, with Nathan Adrian in the starting five. “I’m not sure that’ll happen, but it would be nice if it did. But you can’t miss whatever Dax missed and waltz back in the starting lineup, unless you’re Willis Reed.“I’ve never done that. I’ve had great players — I’m not talking about good players; these were great players — and they knew they had to practice to play.”"
Miles is likely still getting back into playing shape, which is why he only played for 13 minutes against ISU. Prior to playing the Cyclones, Miles was averaging 10.1 points per game.
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If Miles gets back to the starting rotation, he certainly has the ability to pace the Mountaineers. Miles and Jevon Carter are the two starting guards, who eventually give way to Paige and Phillip.
Working off the bench gives Miles a new edge, but he would probably be more comfortable in the starting lineup.
The Mountaineers are back in action Saturday at Oklahoma State. Miles will likely get more than 13 minutes against the Cowboys, but it’s too early to say exactly when he will be seeing the court.