Mountaineers Down Cavaliers
|Field Goal %||41.3||42.0|
|Three Point %||39.1||40.0|
|Free Throw %||73.7||88.9|
The #18 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers won in Morgantown Tuesday night over #15 Virginia Cavaliers, 68-61.
The Mountaineer fans filled up the Coliseum and the atmosphere was fantastic, “It’s really good, it’s a great college basketball atmosphere” said Virginia head coach Tony Bennet after the game. “I had heard a lot about it, I wasn’t quite ready for the gun shot, they surprised me on that one. That said it was going to be after the starting lineup.” Bennet said laughing, then continued to comment about the crowd, “but its loud…. These people know good basketball”.
The Mountaineers fed off the energy from the fans, and West Virginia started the game on a 7-0 run, led by two free throws from Lamont West, and he hit a three and the place was rocking.
Virginia is used to big games and playing in hostile environments, and they would respond with a 10-2 run to take a 10-9 lead.
The officials were calling the game tight early, but it didn’t affect the Mountaineers defense “we have a scouting report, and we follow the scouting report, no matter what the whistle is doing, we follow the game plan” said Lamont West, and it worked.
In the first half, West Virginia held the Cavaliers to just 28.6% shooting, 28.6% from three and forced 7 turnovers on a team that that was averaging 49,2 % from the field and 9 turnovers a game.
Virginia was getting to the free throw line, and 12 of their 26 points came from the charity stripe in the first half.
West Virginia wasn’t getting a lot of good looks against the “pack line” defense, but they continued to attack the Cavaliers, and put up some quality shots, taking a 3-point lead into the locker room, 29-26.
Lamont West was finding his rhythm early, leading the team with 10 points , at the half.
In the second half, both offenses would heat up, and the game resembled more like it was being played in March than December.
Virginia guard Kyle Guy went 6-9 from behind the arc, after starting the game 0-5. He hit three straight threes in a span of a little over a minute to give the Cavaliers a 2-point lead, 41-39. “We let him get going, we stopped guarding him. I thought we did a great job early of making him take tough shots and really work hard to get his shots, and for whatever reason we forgot he was out there. He’s not a good shooter, he’s a great shooter”, said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins after the game.
Jevon Carter would respond on the ensuing possession with a three of his own to take the lead right back.
Carter was clutch throughout the second half, getting 17 of his 23 points. “JC made some shots. That one he made with the shot clock running out was huge”, said Huggins
James “Beetle” Bolden would hit a three to give the Mountaineers a 6-point lead, but Guy would come right back with back to back threes to tie the game up at 51 with 6:50 left to go in the game.
Guy would tie the game back up with his last three of the game with just under 5 minutes to play, but Lamont West would hit a jump shot, then a 3-ponter to give West Virginia a 5-point lead, and the Mountaineers would stay poised, with the veteran leadership of Seniors Daxter Miles Jr and Jevon Carter.
Miles would make a steal with just under a minute to go in the game, to essentially seal the win, “They scored on that elevator screen earlier” said Huggins “He did a great job of getting around the screen and knocking the ball down and saving it”.
Carter would go 5-6 from the free throw line in the final minute of the game, to give the Mountaineers their 8th straight win.
“We’re getting better” said Huggins. There is no doubt this team has improved, since the blowout loss to Texas A&M to open the season.