West Virginia awaits UConn today in second round
Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 00:03
NEW YORK – Following their first-round victory over DePaul, the Huskies will move on to take West Virginia (19-12, 9-9) today at noon in the second round of the Big East tournament. The Mountaineers are currently considered a bubble team for the NCAA tournament field and fell to UConn 64-57 at the XL Center back in early January.
West Virginia led by ten at halftime and nearly a dozen as late as the 11:21 mark. However, a late 17-3 run halted any potential for a visitor victory as the Huskies went up for good on a Lamb jumper with two and a half minutes left to go. The pre-season All-American poured in seventeen points after intermission and Andre Drummond finished with a double-double.
Since their meeting two months ago, the two clubs have toughed their way through Big East play to middling records.
Led by All-Big East 1st team member Kevin Jones, the No. 8 seed in this year's tournament has won half their games since the start of February. The Mountaineers closed out their season with a 50-44 win over South Florida last weekend, as Jones edged out Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom for the conference scoring title by one point. He also leads the Big East in rebounding.
The Robin to Jones's Batman happens to be a scoring machine at shooting guard in Darryl ‘Truck' Bryant. A physical perimeter player, Bryant averages over 17 points per game and is very adept at getting to the rim and finishing. However, behind Jones and Bryant are just two players who average better than six and a half points per game.
Depth is not the only concern for the NCAA tournament hopeful. They fall in the bottom third nationally in field goal percentage and particularly struggled from behind the arc. The Mountaineers typically make up for their shooting woes with superior rebounding as the 19th best club in the country in that category.
Off the Rim
While the Huskies shot well from three-point range, they were terrible from the free throw line, making 11 of 24.
DePaul outrebounded the Huskies in the first half, despite being the 7th worst team out of 338 in the rebounding margin.
The Blue Demons leading scorer, Cleveland Melvin, was a UConn commit during recruiting before backing off and signing with DePaul and then new head coach Oliver Purnell.
Calling yesterday's game was referee Gene Steratore, who also works as an NFL official. Football fans will remember him as the ref who took away Calvin Johnson's gamewinning touchdown catch at Chicago two years ago on Opening Day.
The quotable Jim Calhoun
"I'm not walking with a cane anymore. I couldn't walk with a cane on the sidelines because the officials might have been hit. There was always the fear of pain of some sort but to alleviate that pain was incredible."