MORGANTOWN -- Thirteen points and six assists sound like pretty ordinary numbers.
That's what West Virginia freshman point guard Jonathan Hargett put up against Florida International Saturday night in WVU's 74-61 victory.
But Hargett's play drew unusual praise from veteran Mountaineer coach Gale Catlett.
"I thought this was one of his best games," Catlett said after the contest. "He played exceptional defense against their guards and he was the difference for us on offense because of his ability to handle their pressure.
"Their press really bothered Auburn and Miami, but it was pretty much a non-factor against us because of Hargett."
West Virginia began pulling away from the Golden Panthers near the end of the first half, something neither Auburn nor Miami was able to do. Florida International hung close in both games before falling to the Tigers (67-55) and the Hurricanes (77-59). The Mountaineers, now 5-1, built a pair of 19-point leads by the midway mark of the second half before coasting home with reserves in the final minutes.
In addition to his scoring and assist totals, Hargett committed just three turnovers and came up with four steals in 33 minutes of action.
n STARTING OVER: Former Philip Barbour all-stater Josh Yeager was back in the starting lineup and also drew praise from Catlett.
"I thought Yeager did a nice job on defense against (Rodrigo) Viegas," Catlett, who has been critical of Yeager's defensive efforts at times, said. "Viegas is an excellent player and they do a good job of setting things up for him.
"But Josh really got after him."
The 6-foot-8 Yeager was benched in favor of 6-2 freshman Drew Schifino at James Madison last Wednesday. But Yeager's presence and unselfishness were noticeably missed in the surprising, 91-75 loss to the Dukes.
Yeager ended the evening against FIU with six points, three rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.
"We really focused on defense in practice after losing down at James Madison," Yeager said. "I think that was the difference for us.
"As for me, it was good to be back starting, but it really doesn't matter as long as I get the chance to contribute to the team."
n CENTERS OF ATTENTION: Catlett continued to look at different players in the pivot spot. Senior John Oliver started and played well, hitting for six points while grabbing five rebounds and handing out two assists in 22 minutes of play. Chaz Briggs, a 6-6 true forward, had five points and three rebounds in 12 minutes, and 6-9, 255-pound Chris Garnett added three points and two rebounds in nine minutes of action.
"I thought Oliver did a good job on (FIU freshman sensation Taurance) Johnson," Catlett said. "I thought Johnson (20 points) did most of his damage when Oliver was out of the game.
"But I wanted to look at Briggs a little more and Chris Garnett some too and I wanted to get (7-2) Ales Chan in, but couldn't do it."
Garnett said he's trying to make the most of his limited opportunities.
"I'm really focusing on defense and rebounding right now and then on scoring," Garnett said. "I guess the coaches are going to take a look at me a few more games before deciding what to do with me."
Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org