West Virginia Sophomore guard James “Beetle” Bolden made his first career start inside the WVU Coliseum on Saturday. “There’s was so much attrition. He came in and said he wanted to play which is really good.” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. “I thought we needed another ball handler”.
The Mountaineers have a unique way of introducing the starting lineup and it’s one of the best traditions in college basketball. The “rolling out the carpet” is one of a kind and walking on a piece of history where so many Mountaineer legends have walked, “It was amazing, truly a blessing and I kind of liked it.” said Bolden.
Beetle started the game the way he has been coming off the bench all year, with a lot of energy.
He made his presence known from tip-off. Forward Sagaba Konate didn’t win the jump ball, but it didn’t stop Beetle from getting his hand on the ball to help secure the tip. Bolden jumped in front of a Kansas State player, batted the ball to forward Esa Ahmad and immediately set the tone for West Virginia.
On the first offensive possession, Beetle hustled to get an offensive rebound and when the ball came back his way, he buried a three to give the Mountaineers an early 3-0 lead.
In less than a minute later, Bolden would steal the ball from Kansas State Forward Dean Wade setting the tone on defense.
Bolden would play the majority of his minutes in the first half. He would put up nine points in 18 minutes giving West Virginia some much needed offense, “Beetle made a big one early when were kind of struggling a little bit to score.” said Huggins.
Beetle was on the floor for six minutes the second half, but it was about saving his legs, because he was one of the players that was affected by the flu “Beetle came in yesterday pretty much right out of the hospital” said Huggins after the game.
“I just don’t like quitting on my team. If it don’t stop me from being out there with my team, I’ll do it. Me not feeling well has nothing to do with me not going out there and playing” said Bolden.
Bolden finished the game with 13 points, 2 assists, a steal and a rebound.