For the third time this season, WVU’s Jaysean Paige has earned the Big 12 Payer of the Week honor.
The Mountaineers earned two wins this past week, thanks to Paige’s strong play off the bench.
It’s been the story all season for the Mountaineers, when Paige is in the game, West Virginia puts points on the board.
That was the case in a win over Iowa State. Paige was the sixth man and scored a career-best 34 points. That also set a record for any Mountaineer player in bench scoring.
In a win over Oklahoma State, Paige had a team-best 17 points.
The best part of Paige’s play is how consistent it was been throughout the season.
Paige has adapted to his role and flourishes in it. Still, while Paige is the unquestioned leader of the West Virginia team, it’s because of his role that other players around him are able to thrive.
The depth and strong bench has been the reason the Mountaineers are now the No. 2 team in the Big 12.
"“I think it we’re making shots at the right time we certainly can make a run,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “The most important thing to advance in the NCAA tournament is you’ve got to score.”"
With a 22-7 record, the Mountaineers are averaging 79.6 per game this season, while limiting opponents to 66.4 points per game.
Paige has brought his scoring average up to 14.3 points per game, while Devin Williams is scoring at a 13.3 points per game clip.
In Big 12 games, Paige has come on strong by scoring 16 points per game, which is fourth in the conference.
Last year, these kind of numbers were just a pipe dream for Paige. But, Huggins knew better. The veteran head coach always cites examples from his former players like Juwan Staten, Nick Van Exel, Jason Maxiel and the whole starting five from the 2010 Final Four team. Those were the guys who dedicated their life to becoming better players.
After just one year, Paige can be in the category, as well.
“I was really disappointed in the fact he didn’t use his athleticism a year ago,” Huggins said. “He hung around the 3-point line and didn’t use his athleticism. That’s a conversation he and I have had since he got here.”
And what has Paige thought about his transformation?
“I’m kind of happy with getting to the basket a little more than shooting it,” he said. “I’m trying not to settle on jump shots. I’ll shoot it sometimes when the shot clock is going down, but if I’m open, I’m definitely going to shoot it. I’m in the gym all the time. If they don’t go in, I wouldn’t say it hurts, but it does frustrate me because I do work on that part of my game. It’s not like I’m not working on it.”
This season, Paige is shotting 33.9-percent from 3-point range and 54-percent from inside-the-arc.