|Field Goal %||41.2||51.6|
|Three Point %||30.4||36.4|
|Free Throw %||82.6||70.8|
The 5th seed West Virginia Mountaineers move past the 12th seed Murray State Racers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
West Virginia started off from the field cold (4-17) but they got their offense going finishing the final 11 minutes of the first half, going 11-16 from the field. “We were either playing too fast or we weren’t real focused early cause we missed how many shots around the rim? We just couldn’t get any to go in.” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins.
The Mountaineers took an early 5-0 lead after a Sagaba Konate jump hook and a Wesley Harris three.
Murray State came right back and took a one-point lead with a 9-3 run, then West Virginia forward Logan Routt came off the bench and scored five straight points to cap off an 8-0 run to give the Mountaineers the 16-9 lead.
The Racers Terrell Miller Jr single handedly kept his team in the game throughout the first half. He continued to respond every time the Mountaineers tried to pull away.
West Virginia could never get a double-digit lead but led by nine after Jevon Carter fade away jump shot in the final seconds of the half.
Terrell Miller Jr had a double-double by halftime with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Mountaineers held Murray States leading scorer Jonathan Stark (21.8) on 1-9 shooting from the field and 1-8 from three-point range for seven points.
West Virginia’s Esa Ahmad and Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers with eight points.
The Mountaineers got their double-digit lead with an Ahmad layup to start the second half.
Murray State cut the lead to five 49-44 with a little under 15 minutes to play in the game.
West Virginia took their biggest lead after a Jevon Carter Steal and then found a trailing Logan Routt to for a slam dunk 58-45. That play finished a 7-0 run by the Mountaineers and the Racers could not cut the lead into single digits throughout the game despite their effort.
The Racers never got within striking distance after that run. “These guys led by Carter and Miles (Daxter Miles Jr), they like to play” said Huggins “So much easier to coach, so much easier to have in practice. You don’t have to fight with them all the time about playing hard. I guess it was about four years ago we just made a very conscious effort that we’re not going to recruit guys that we have to beg to play.”
Jevon Carter and Teddy Allen combined for 24 second half points in response to any run the Racers tried to put together.
In the end, West Virginia was too much for Murray State and pulled away at the end and go their biggest lead (17) with a tip-in by Sags with a little over a minute left in the game.
Teddy Allen had 16 of the 23 bench points for West Virginia. “I told them before the game we’re 7-0 in the Big XII when we have four guys in double figures. We had four guys in double figures today. It’s important that we spread it around.” Said Huggins.
The game didn’t have much excitement, but the Mountaineers handled their business against a scrappy Murray State team that played their hearts out.
The Mountaineers played well defensively holding the Racers to 41.2% shooting and scoring 18 points off 16 forced turnovers.
West Virginia will meet Marshall on Sunday in the second round.