West Virginia and Marshall will battle for the hoop supremacy of the Mountain State nearly 2,500 miles away from home in San Diego.
The Mountaineers qualified for the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament after grinding out a 85-68 victory over Murray State Friday afternoon at the Viejas Arena.
West Virginia’s defensive pressure was the difference against the Racers. “Press Virginia” forced 7 turnovers in the first 11 minutes of the game and 16 for the game. The Racers committed an average of 12 turnovers in a game during the regular season.
The Mountaineers missed 13 of their first 16 shots in the game. But they sizzled afterwards, hitting 29 of 46 from the field for 63.0 percent.
The victory enabled the Mountaineers to win their first NCAA Tournament game for the third time in the last four seasons.
West Virginia improves to 25-10 for the season. Murray State, which saw its 13-game winning streak snapped, falls to 26-6. The Mountaineers claimed their ninth victory in their last 13 games.
3 who mattered
- Jevon Carter: The Big 12’s most versatile point guard produced a team-high 21 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 steals. As impressive was the way he shackled Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and Murray State leading scorer Jonathan Stark, who was limited to 9 points on 1-for-12 shooting.
- Teddy Allen: “Teddy Buckets” came off the bench to score 16 points and become an inside threat for the Mountaineers when they most needed one.
- Terrell Miller: Murray State’s inside threat came up with a monster game with 27 points and 17 rebounds. But the game changed when he left the game with his fourth foul with 9:03 left in the game.
The turning point
After Murray State closed within six on a free throw by Dupree, the Mountaineers erupted on a 7-0 to reclaim control from there midway through the second half. The run was capped by a nifty steal by Carter, leading to a slam dunk by Routt that gave the Mountaineers a 58-45 lead with 11:58 left.
Murray State never came with single digits during the rest of the game.
- West Virginia dominated the game from the early moments of the game. Murray State was able to stay in the game because of its hustle, particularly on the offensive boards. Murray had a 21-16 edge on the boards, including a huge 12-point, 13-rebound first-half effort by Terrell Miller Jr.
- An early highlight destined for the “One Shining Moment” video: The hustling of little-used Logan Routt for a dunk that led to his career high in scoring. It led to Routt imploring Mountaineer fans to “raise the roof.”
- West Virginia is tough to beat when they have scoring throughout their lineup. They had four players in double figure. It makes them 8-0 this season when they have four double-figure scorers.
The number: 276
Carter and Dax Miles have played in 276 combined games in their college careers. It the most of any starting backcourt in the nation..
What’s next for West Virginia basketball
The Mountaineers advance to the second round Sunday in San Diego against Marshall, which stunned No. 4 seed Wichita State. The Herd were proficient in their victory on Friday, earning a 27-7 edge in points off turnovers against the Shockers.
Separated by about three hours by car, the Mountaineers and Herd have contested a fierce rivalry over the years. West Virginia holds a 30-11 advantage in the series, including five straight and nine of the last 10 games.
The two bitter rivals played for 38 consecutive seasons before their last game. West Virginia claimed an 86-68 victory in Charleston on Dec. 17, 2015. The two teams haven’t played since.
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