MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Some things are just best in pairs, Batman and Robin, Bert and Ernie, Hans Solo and Chewbacca and Chip and Dale.
In the Mountaineers’ 97-87 victory over Iowa State Paige and Phillip combined to score 56 of WVU’s 69 points that the bench produced.
The two guards have really excelled coming off the bench and they have an amazing chemistry together.
“We together all the time I feel like,” Phillip said. “So it’s like I kind of know what he wants to do sometimes. I know his tendencies. I know where he likes to get shots. So it’s just there. I don’t know how to explain it.”
“We are on the same page,” Paige said. “We in the gym together. We talk. We talk about what about what we want to do and how we can execute ways. And then we watch the games all the time and see what we can do differently. We just try to attack. Just try to attack and be aggressive.”
The two are more than just teammates. They are roommates and they have a similar dedication to the game. Both work hard and their dedication is paying off on the court.
“He’s really put in an incredible amount of work,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “And unlike some guys, when he started to make shots he didn’t stop (practicing). The other guy that’s in there all the time is Jaysean It’s really a pretty good formula.”
Paige is the Mountaineers leading scorer, averaging 14.2 points per game. The Jamestown, NY native has really stepped up his game this season and he is finding success.
Paige was primarily a 3-point shooter in junior college, but during the offseason, the senior changed his game.
He started attacking and showing opponents that he could be an all-around threat. In Monday’s victory he scored 34 points, breaking Chris Leonard’s school record of 32 bench points scored in a game against St. Bonaventure on January 6, 1990.
“He’s tough to stop, I ain’t going to lie,” Phillip said. “I guard him in practice sometimes. He’s a tough dude once he gets that straight line on you. He’s tough to stay in front of. As you see, he’s going to get to the line a lot. He a tough player to defend.”
Like his teammate, Phillip has put the work in and has developed into the shooting threat he has become.
The Brooklyn, NY native made 6-of-8 from beyond the arc against Iowa State. He finished the game with 22 points.
That is a huge difference from the start of the season where Phillip didn’t make a 3-pointer until this season’s ninth game. He had missed 12 straight 3s.
This change can be attributed to Phillip’s hard work and dedication.
“I think he’s felt a little more responsibility to score the ball,” Huggins said. “But Tarik’s put a lot of work in. Tarik might be the hardest-working guy on the team. It’s really in a lot of ways good to see a guy put that much time in and work so hard and start to be successful.”
While Paige and Phillip may be two of WVU’s best players, they embrace the role of coming off the bench. In fact, they prefer to.
When the duo come in and get going together good things happen for the Mountaineers. They bring certain energy to the game.
“Whenever we come off the bench, we try to come off with a lot of energy,” Paige said. “Change the game. Whether it’s defensively or getting some steals or rebounding the ball or playing defensively, we just try to come in and bring some energy and spark everything up.”
When the time is nearing for the two to enter the game, they look at each other and know its go time.
“Let’s go, Let’s go. It’s time to go,” Phillip said. “When we get on the court we feel like we got to bring the energy. That’s what re-enforcements are supposed to do. If it was the other way around I would want the same thing from the guys coming off the bench. They got to bring the energy.”
As long as the two continue doing what they do, it looks like WVU will continue to have success.