West Virginia blew the game open with 19 consecutive points late in the first half and cruised to a 94-71 victory over cross-state rival Marshall Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The victory boosts the Mountaineers into the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season and third time in four seasons.
After Marshall started quickly, the Herd missed 12 of their last 13 shots in the first half. West Virginia confused Marshall with more on-ball pressure than they usually
The Mountaineers effectively got the Thundering Herd out of their accustomed pace, forcing 10 Marshall turnovers during a span of 7½ minutes midway through the first half.
West Virginia improves to 26-10 with the victory, its 10th in its last 14 games. Marshall falls to 25-11.
It marks the eighth time in their last 12 NCAA trips that the Mountaineers have qualified for the Sweet 16.
3 who mattered
- Jevon Carter: The Big 12’s most versatile point guard erupted for a game-high 28 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals to lead the victory.
- Lamont West: Coming off the bench, West provided a monster game with 18 points and 10 rebounds in 22 games. It was his second career double-double.
- Esa Ahmad: Filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 7 rebounds and a career-high 7 assists.
The turning point
West Virginia went to a three-guard attack with Carter, Dax Miles Jr. and James Bolden. That trio helped spark a 23-2 run midway through the first half that blew the game open.
- So much for the Capital Classic. Bob Huggins has been adamant about not playing the Thundering Herd and the Mountaineers haven’t in three years. If they can’t be more competitive, the rivalry won’t continue anytime soon.
- Moment destined for the “One Shining Moment” video: A view from the West Virginia sidelines of Bob Huggins going ballistic as he directs his team from the sidelines. The more the Mountaineers keep winning in the tournament, the more we’ll see that glimpse of West Virginia basketball.
- West Virginia was too strong inside for Marshall and it started from the opening tip. West Virginia had a 27-11 edge in the first half in rebounds, including 11 offensive rebounds before intermission.
The number: 23
West Virginia’s margin of victory matched its largest ever against Marshall. They previously produced that margin in the first meeting in 1929 when West Virginia claimed a 44-21 triumph.
What’s next for West Virginia basketball
The Mountaineers advance to the East Region Sweet 16 Friday night in Boston against No. 1 seed Villanova, which beat No. 16 Radford and No. 9 Alabama in their first two games.
The Wildcats claimed the Big East regular-season and conference tournament and have won seven straight games.
Entering the tournament, the Wildcats were ranked No. 2 by the Associated Press. And with Virginia’s elimination, Coach Jay Wright’s team is the highest ranked squad still left.
The Mountaineers and Wildcats are frequent rivals over the years. Villanova holds a 22-20 edge in the series.
They played frequently over the years in the Big East and have met twice previously in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova has won both games in 1962 and 1980.
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