MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Wesley Harris scored a career-high 20 points as West Virginia fended off Jacksonville State, 74-72, on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
Lamont West tallied 18 points and Brandon Knapper chipped in 12.
After a lengthy suspension, freshman Derek Culver made his season debut. He scored four points.
“He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “He’s our best athlete, by far. He has to get a cram course of how to play. It’s going to take awhile. It’s a whole lot different. You’re trying to work them and kind of drill them and stuff. Then when those other nine guys are around you and flying, it’s a little different.”
Harris led the Mountaineers (7-4) with eight boards.
“I thought he went and got a couple big boy rebounds and follows that I haven’t seen all year, quite frankly,” Huggins said.
The Gamecocks (7-5) fell behind 49-40 with 16:04 left in the game after Beetle Bolden drained a 3-pointer. However, Jacksonville State refused to bow down and took the lead with under five minutes to play.
With eight seconds remaining and WVU ahead, Jason Burnell missed a 3 and Chase Harler grabbed the rebound, sealing the win for the Mountaineers.
Marlon Hunter had 26 points for the Gamecocks. Christian Cunningham added 13.
WVU shot 45 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc and 55 percent from the charity stripe.
Jacksonville State shot 47 percent from the floor and 27 percent from 3-point range.
The Mountaineers turned the ball over 14 times while forcing just nine turnovers.
Forward Sagaba Konate was sidelined for the game and is expected to miss up to four weeks with a knee injury.
WVU returns to action on Sunday, January 30 at 2 p.m. against Lehigh.