www.charlestondailymail.com WVU Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers No. 1 Kentucky thrashes West Virginia in Sweet Sixteen http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150327/DM03/150329276 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150327/DM03/150329276 Fri, 27 Mar 2015 01:06:19 -0400 By Mike Casazza CLEVELAND - The story here this week, throughout the hopeful days before Kentucky humbled West Virginia, 78-39, Thursday in the Sweet Sixteen, was that this was the place for the Mountaineers.

Ten years ago, they waltzed through March as a Cinderella outfitted with precision, first capturing the back pages of the New York City tabloids with a run to the Big East tournament final and then reaching the Sweet Sixteen with classic wins over Creighton and Wake Forest down the road at Cleveland State's Wolstein Center.

John Beilein is no longer on the bench, but in his place is Bob Huggins, raised in the game within this state's borders, first by his father, a high school coaching legend, and then on his own as an assistant and a head coach at four Ohio universities. Two starters and a reserve were born and played high school ball in the state, and they'd get to play games on the first and second weekends before friends and family, to say nothing of the fans who could afford to travel up the road and buy tickets.

The coincidences were irresistible, though Huggins would do his best to fix his stare forward. When he looked that way, he saw Kentucky and his pal, coach John Calipari, who Huggins bested eight times in 10 career matchups. If the Mountaineers got past this game and the next one, a seemingly easier opportunity Saturday against Notre Dame, they'd be in the Final Four in Indianapolis. That just so happens to be the site of the last Final Four to include the Mountaineers, and WVU had to beat Kentucky in the 2010 Elite Eight to get there.

That story was fun. The story Thursday night was different. It was the reality. This might have been the place for the Mountaineers, but this was not the time, and this was not the year, no matter how much Daxter Miles wanted to believe WVU would send Kentucky home at 36-1. In one day, the boastful Miles and his teammates went from making headlines to becoming the punchline.

"I knew it was going to be like this," Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis said. "We've been talking about it all day - coming out and demolishing them because they were talking so much trash, saying we were going to be 36-1 and stuff like that. We felt like that was nonsense."

No team coached by Huggins had ever lost by more. No WVU team coached by Huggins has scored fewer points. No team has scored fewer points in the Sweet Sixteen since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 - and you'd have to go 10 years before that to find another team that finished with just 39 points.

"You've got to fight them," WVU forward Jon Holton said. "You can't let them come out and knock you down and not respond. They're a great team. That's all I can say. They're a great team. You can't take that away from them."

The Wildcats, hounding history like the Mountaineers pursued steals all season, moved to 37-0 by easing past WVU and navigating and negating everything the Mountaineers had to offer before 19,465 at Quicken Loans Arena. What would have been one of the greatest upsets in tournament history never had a chance. Kentucky led 18-2 and five Wildcats had at least one basket before WVU made two.

"They were aggressive, they took it to the basket and we couldn't score, which was my biggest fear was - that we would have a hard time scoring," Huggins said.

Devin Williams picked up two fouls in the first 1:13, and the Mountaineers called two timeouts and had two media timeouts during 6:58 between baskets. It was a horrid stretch with 10 straight missed shots between Juwan Staten buckets and vivid problems with Kentucky's size while playing offense and defense, rebounding and even inbounding the ball.

Kentucky's third 3 made it 30-10, and things got so bad that WVU went from not scoring points to actually losing points. During the media timeout with 7:36 left in the half, Staten's earlier spell-snapping 3 was changed to a 2, and the Mountaineers trailed by 21. The hole was as deep as 27 points late in the first half, and the Wildcats led 44-18 at halftime, WVU's least-prolific half of the season. When Kentucky opened up against No. 16 seed Hampton last week, the score was 41-22 at the half.

"It felt like deja vu at the beginning of the year when we were tring to find ourselves," Williams said. "We got away from what we do."

The lack of suspense continued the tournament's trend. In the first round, higher seeds went 27-5, including 8-0 in WVU's Midwest Region and 15-1 on the first Friday. WVU was one of the four No. 5 seeds to beat the No. 12, the first time in eight years a No. 5 wasn't upset in the first round. In the second round, the higher seeds went 13-3, including 4-0 in the West and South regions.

Of the 16 teams to move on to second weekend, nine were top-four seeds. Only one was worse than a No. 8 seed, and UCLA is the sort of place that will put up only so long with coach Steve Alford turning in seasons that get the Bruins the No. 11 seed.

WVU was the No. 5 seed, and Kentucky was the No. 1, not just in the region, but the entire tournament, that after finishing the regular season as the unanimous No. 1 in both the media and coaches' polls. The odds were already against the Mountaineers doing what nobody else had done and only a few had even come close to this season, and the results in this tournament didn't move the needle.

The nation's best in field-goal percentage defense held WVU to 24.1 percent, the third-lowest figure in school history. As bad as the Mountaineers started the first half, it was worse after halftime, when they opened 0 for 11 and didn't make a shot for the first 8:18. Jevon Carter's layup was followed by a steal at the 11:32 mark, the first time all game WVU turned Kentucky over with its press. Tarik Phillip converted with a layup and a 54-23 score.

Miles was 0 for 2 from the floor before missing two foul shots with 9:31 to go. He didn't score in 19 minutes. His prediction was held up as inspiration in their locker room, but Miles wouldn't address it. He spoke with reporters after the game, but when asked about his comment or how Kentucky played, he stated the Wildcats were better.

"We didn't play our game, they played a lot harder tha us and they just played good," he said.

Williams, who averaged 15.8 points the past four games, didn't score until hitting a jumper with 8:39 to go and finished with nine points. Staten led the team with 14 points.

Trey Lyles led the Wildcats with 14 points. Andrew Harrison added 13 points and Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Devin Booker each had 12.

"We beat a really good team pretty good, but that's not indicative of the year they had," Calipari said.

The Mountaineers finished the season 25-10 and won two games in the NCAA Tournament, double the total they won in the previous four years. It's quite the height for a program that was down not long ago. On the morning of graduation on campus in May, Huggins had to call a press conference at his flashy practice facility to address the state of a program that played to an even .500 record the previous three years and could not stop losing players to other places.

"We're going to be fine," Huggins said that day. "We are fine. I'm excited about the year and what we're doing."

He was named the Big 12 coach of the year earlier this month for tying for fourth place in the Big 12 and winning 11 games in the RPI's top-rated conference, all while using seven first-year players.

"I said it all along. I said what he's done with this team is incredible," Calipari said. "And again, he's taken kids, they've gotten better individually and they've come together and said, 'Here's the style we can win with,' and that's how they're playing and they won't get away from it. That's who they are. The players now have taken great pride in it, and I will tell you that I could see Bob getting coach of the year in a lot of different things. There's no question what he's done, and again, in a tough league."

A year after rebuilding his roster, Huggins could return 10 players for next season. The Mountaineers also welcome Ohio's player of the year in forward Esa Ahmad, Kentucky guard James Bolden and the top scorer in junior college, Williston (N.D.) State guard Teyvon Myers.

"I think we put West Virginia basketball back on the map," Staten said. "Coach Huggs has always had great teams, teams that are used to being in the NCAA Tournament, used to winning games. For a while we got away from that, so just to get back to this spot, you know, to be in the Sweet 16 means that we got a special thing."

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Chuck McGill: UK defense gives WVU historically bad night http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150327/DM03/150329277 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150327/DM03/150329277 Fri, 27 Mar 2015 01:02:09 -0400 By Chuck McGill CLEVELAND - Maybe it was Daxter Miles who made the mistake by the lake. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered if the Mountaineers freshman had been tight-lipped.

The latter seems more likely than the former after No. 1 Kentucky looked very much like what Miles said the Wildcats weren't: invincible. UK, the NCAA tournament's top overall seed, ousted No. 5 seed West Virginia, 78-39, and handed coach Bob Huggins the worst loss of a career that has spanned 33 seasons and 1,077 games.

Even the historic nature in which the Mountaineers lost didn't surprise. UK, backed by Big Blue Nation, has been leaving opponents feeling blue en route to a 37-0 start.

The Wildcats defeated an opponent by double figures for the 30th time this season, and the 39-point margin of victory gives UK 10 wins by 30 or more points in 2014-15.

That's why analysts like ESPN's Jeff Goodman seemed so sure about what was going to happen here at Quicken Loans Arena, where 19,465 watched the second of two Sweet Sixteen games at the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"It would be a dream," Goodman said Thursday morning, before adding his thoughts on how the Mountaineers could win. "It would be if Kentucky had four guys get hurt."

It was the Wildcats' historically great defense that suffocated WVU. Kentucky ranks in the top five in field-goal percentage defense (35.1) and points per game allowed (53.9) of any team in Division I college basketball since 1975. That is all teams and all seasons in the past 40 years.

No wonder the Mountaineers couldn't crack 40 points for the first time since Jan. 30, 2008, when Huggins' former team, Cincinnati, beat WVU 62-39. That's actually a misleading fact, too, as the last time before that the Mountaineers didn't score at least 40 points was during the 1980 season. Before that, it was the 1951 season.

That is three sub-40 games in scoring in the last 63 years for WVU.

If a team was going to do that to the Mountaineers - and in the NCAA tournament, no less - it would be this Kentucky team. When the starting lineups were announced, the Wildcats introduced a lineup with no player shorter than 6-foot-6. Three players in that lineup stand 6-10 or taller.

West Virginia's starting lineup, by height: 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, 6-7, 6-9.

It didn't help that WVU's 6-9 player, sophomore Devin Williams, picked up his first foul 12 seconds into the game and was called for a charge 62 seconds later that sent him to the bench with two fouls. All 255 pounds of him.

Goodman had opined on ESPN that the game would come down to "Williams against all of 'em." Williams finished with two baskets and four fouls.

The loss ends one of the Mountaineers' most impressive seasons, considering this team had seven newcomers and was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12's preseason poll after missing out on the Big Dance in consecutive seasons.

West Virginia won at least 25 games for the 10th time in school history and reached the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen for the ninth time ever.

Kentucky, meanwhile, will continue to pursue the unprecedented. There has never been a men's college hoops program finish 40-0, and the last undefeated season belongs to the 1967 Indiana Hoosiers, who finished 32-0.

The road UK faces won't be easy.

The Midwest Region No. 3 seed, Notre Dame, awaits in Saturday's regional final here Saturday night. Among NCAA tournament teams, it'll be just the second time this season Kentucky has faced one of the 12 teams seeded 1, 2 or 3 in this 68-team bracket. That game happened more than four months ago, when the Wildcats steamrolled the eventual Big 12 champion Kansas Jayhawks by 32 points. It was one of UK's 10 wins with a margin of 30 points or more, and probably the earliest indication that this was a Kentucky team capable of what it is on the verge of accomplishing.

It's hard to foresee the Wildcats stumbling if they play like they did here Thursday night.

It makes one wonder what the freshman Miles was thinking before he sat in a stool inside a locker room inside this arena and told a horde of media that UK would be one-and-done in Cleveland, a city where the Mountaineers had never lost before in five tries.

Miles' picture - with the headline Mighty Mouth - was splashed on the pages of the New York Post. He had his comments dissected by former college coaches Seth Greenberg and Jim Calhoun on ESPN.

"The way West Virginia wins is make it a rock fight," Greenberg said during the discussion. "The first rock was thrown."

Kentucky responded with defense and dunks. There was nowhere for the Mountaineers to take cover.

"Nobody's invincible," Miles said Wednesday. "Their time is going to come." He later added that "everybody can be beaten."

After what was witnessed here, Miles might be wrong on all accounts.

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WVU women halt Duquesne in NIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM03/150329296 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM03/150329296 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:25:19 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University women's basketball team rolled into the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals while holding its second consecutive opponent to fewer than 40 points in a 60-39 win at WVU Coliseum on Thursday.

Averee Fields had 19 points and 11 rebounds for WVU (21-14), which advances to the field of eight this weekend. The date, time and location has not been determined.

Coach Mike Carey's team defeated Hampton 57-39 on Tuesday as the Mountaineers have surrendered 78 points combined in their last two games, only 17 more than in their first-round game against Buffalo.

April Robinson's 14 points led the Dukes (23-11), who shot just 27.5 percent. Bria Holmes had 17 points and six rebounds and Teana Muldrow 15 points and six boards as WVU outrebounded Duquesne 49-38.

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W.Va. natives provide scouting report on No. 1 Kentucky http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329396 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329396 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 23:06:57 -0400 By Chuck McGill CLEVELAND - A pair of West Virginia natives, Rob Fulford and Noah Cottrill, have more in common than their time together at Mountain State Academy.

Fulford, an assistant coach at Missouri, and Cottrill, a junior point guard at Georgetown (Ky.) College, have shared the hardwood with the No. 1-ranked and undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. That's the team the West Virginia University men's basketball team will meet in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen on Thursday night here inside Quicken Loans Arena.

"I've seen it up close and personal," Fulford said. "Too, too many games."

They know what the Mountaineers are up against. Missouri lost two Southeastern Conference games to Kentucky - 86-37 on Jan. 13 and 69-53 on Jan. 29. Fulford, a Mullens native who just finished his first season as a major college assistant, saw the Wildcats win those two meetings by a combined 65 points.

"They hit you with so many waves of guys," Fulford said. "You're talking about the entire team they put out there are pros, so there's no weakness. When they're on, it's impressive."

UK won the first meeting by 49 points, but the Tigers kept it closer in the rematch.

"When we played them (at home) in Columbia, it's not that we found a weakness, we just played better," Fulford said. "We played with a little more confidence because, at that point, what do you have to lose? They've already beat you by 49. We came out more relaxed, we played physical. They didn't hit as many shots because of that."

Cottrill, who was a high school star at Poca and Logan, completed his junior season at Georgetown as the fourth-leading scorer (22.2 points) in NAIA. His team played at Kentucky on Nov. 9 in an exhibition game, and Cottrill finished with 10 points in 39 minutes in a 121-52 loss.

"It's tough to compare them to any other college team because of their length and athleticism," said Cottrill, who lives about 12 miles from UK's campus. "Those are two things you cannot teach. They cover up any holes they have in their defense and their bigs can guard a lot of guards. They don't have too many weaknesses."

Fulford is curious to see how West Virginia handles UK's size. The Wildcats will play 6-foot-10 freshman Trey Lyles, 6-11 freshman Karl-Anthony Towns and 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein at the same time.

"They're a matchup nightmare at a couple of different positions," Fulford said. "They can play Trey Lyles at the 3 and he's 6-10. They do a really good job of posting him up, and they do a good job of disguising their matchups and how they're going to post him up. They do a lot of creative things ... and typically you've got a 3 guarding him. He's probably their biggest matchup problem and he does a really good job of finding shooters."

Fulford said it wouldn't be a surprise to see Cauley-Stein at the top of the key guarding WVU point guard Juwan Staten at times.

"Their biggest advantage is on defense and how they can guard," Fulford said. "They can put Willie Cauley-Stein on a point guard and he can guard them. He steps out and guards point guards. Most people think that's an advantage (for the other team), well, you can attack him but he's coming right along with you to block it."

Cottrill was a witness to that defense in November's matchup at Rupp Arena.

"They would switch the ball screens on me a few times and I'd get matched up with Cauley-Stein," Cottrill said. "His unbelievable length helps him back off you and keep you in front but you still can't shoot it because he is so long. It's very hard to get separation, and he is very quick and a very good defender for his size."

Fulford, who built the Huntington Prep program before getting the job at Missouri last June, has been focused on his responsibilities with the Tigers and hasn't seen much of WVU. His first glimpse was in Sunday's NCAA tournament when the Mountaineers knocked out No. 4 Maryland to advance to Thursday's Sweet Sixteen game.

"I did watch the Maryland game and West Virginia is very physical," Fulford said. "That press is relentless because it's not just the first team. People compare it to Arkansas but after that initial first trap, (Arkansas is) in man-to-man. WVU is trapping the entire possession and they trap you in a way that keeps you off-balance.

"Kentucky will have a ton of easy baskets out of the press, but at the same time that's not a bad thing because West Virginia is getting them to play how they want to play."

For the record, the Mountain State boys are cheering on the home state team.

"I'm rooting for them," Cottrill said. "You can't underestimate Bob Huggins. Huggs is one to go in as an underdog and win this game. I'd just love to see West Virginia win."

Fulford can't help but go against Missouri's conference partner.

"I'm going against the party lines, the SEC, and rooting for my West Virginia homeboys," Fulford said. "It's not like Cal can get mad and run up the score. He already beat us by 50."

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WVU big man Williams juices up game with fruits, vegetables http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329397 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329397 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 23:01:10 -0400 By Mike Casazza CLEVELAND - Devin Williams is in the most prolific scoring stretch of his career, and it comes at the ideal time because West Virginia will need his shooting from a distance and his strength up close Thursday night against Kentucky.

The sophomore forward from Cincinnati, who played his AAU basketball here for the Ohio Basketball Club, has scored at least 16 points in each of the past four games. It's just the third time this season and the fourth time in his career he has been in double figures for four consecutive games, and the 15.8 average in that span is the best run for a player who's averaging 10 points in 66 career games.

"I've been juicing," Williams said. "I've been juicing for about a month, and it's been working out for me."

Forgive the 6-foot-9, 255-pounder with the size 19 feet and the comparably big goggles. He couldn't see what he'd just stepped in. Williams had no idea what juicing could mean, a word sometimes used in reference to performance-enhancing drugs.

"Is that so?" Williams said. "I didn't know that. I didn't mean that, either. I'm talking about fruits and vegetables and things like that."

Williams had a tough night when the Mountaineers lost at Kansas after taking an 18-point lead in the first half. He made 2 of 5 shots and 5 of 9 free throws, and one of those misses helped Kansas force overtime. Williams played with foul trouble, disagreed with some calls and fouled out in the middle of the extra period.

He felt the need to change, and for some reason he decided to try a juice diet.

"Nobody told me," he said. "I'm self-driven."

In the next game, he had 22 points and 13 rebounds for his first double-double in eight games as the Mountaineers ended the regular season with a win at home against Oklahoma State. He hasn't slowed down since.

Williams stands in the middle of his team's plans Thursday night as WVU takes on Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. The Midwest Region semifinal between the fifth-seeded Mountaineers (25-9) and the top-seeded Wildcats (36-0) at Quicken Loans Arena will be televised on CBS at approximately 9:40 p.m.

"Dev is very important to our team because he is our low post presence," WVU point guard Juwan Staten said. "You can tell by just looking at him. He's built like a Roman god. Just throw the ball in to him and let him work. When he's playing great offense, that's great for us because he's always going to be rebound no matter what. When he can step up and score more points, that's great for us because we don't have to turn into such a perimeter-oriented team."

Williams' spike in production seems tied to his affinity for produce. Something that comes with being on a team that plays and travels so much is the unrelenting pressure to eat a couple fruits and vegetables every day. Williams simply took things one step farther.

"I bought a blender at Walmart for like $20, and it's got an individual container," he said. "I throw a couple things in there and blend it up."

He starts and ends his days with his home brew, favoring fruits over vegetables for his breakfasts and dinners, but relenting every now and then to include some celery or lettuce.

"I'm trying to be as much of a pro as I can be," he said. "To be honest with you, I want to be a pro, and I'm trying to prepare myself and focus and eat right and drink right, all the little things. Those are the things that separate you, and right now, I feel good. I've got great energy, and you can see it out here."

Scoring is only part of Williams' rise. He's doing it efficiently to blend in with WVU's plans and hasn't needed a lot of shots to get a lot of points. In the four games, he has taken 33 shots, and the 12 in the second round against Maryland were more than he'd taken in 30 other games. He was 4 for 6 against Oklahoma State, 7 for 9 against Baylor, 5 for 6 against Buffalo and 5 for 12 against the Terrapins.

Nearly half of his points have come at the foul line, where he's made 31 of his last 35 free throws. The foul shots come with his presence near the basket and not merely because of offense. He remains WVU's best rebounder and has had 13, seven, nine and 10 the past four games.

A little of everything will help the Mountaineers a lot. The Wildcats lead the nation in field-goal percentage defense (35.1) and rank second in blocked shots per game (6.9). Four players are 6-10 or taller, which figures to make life difficult for Williams, who's had a habit of missing close shots and shoots 45.1 percent for the season.

"The biggest thing is just their length as far as how long they are and how much space they take up," Williams said. "I don't think they're very massive guys as far as weight or the structure of their bodies or things like that. I think they're some wiry and athletic guys."

Williams can pull the defenders away from the basket with jumpers, and that would give his teammates room to run offense and give Williams a chance to score off the dribble when he moves from the basket. One way or another, the Mountaineers want to challenge the defense.

"We've definitely got to make jump shots, and we've got to pump fake and go up strong," West Virginia forward Jon Holton said. "Don't be afraid of them or their length. You can't score if you shy away from the basket. You've got to try to get them in foul trouble, too. You need to hit jumpers to pull them out and you need to pump fake and get to the basket. The main thing is finishing."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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Kentucky confident going up against WVU's press defense http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329400 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329400 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:59:11 -0400 By Mike Casazza CLEVELAND - As would be expected before they take the court at Quicken Loans Arena for Thursday's Sweet Sixteen game, West Virginia and Kentucky first took issue with one another Wednesday over pressure defense.

The Wildcats were content with their experience against the presses they saw from Louisville, Ole Miss and Arkansas (twice). Those were not merely teams using a gimmick to rattle still-undefeated Kentucky, but pressing teams that couldn't keep the Wildcats from winning another game on the way to the best start ever by a Division I team.

Kentucky only turns the ball over 10.6 times per game, the 24th-best average in the country.

"I think those are some of the best pressing teams in the country," guard Aaron Harrison said. "I think if we challenge it, it'll be fine."

The Mountaineers, who lead the nation in steals (10.9) and forced turnovers (19.6) per game, didn't share Kentucky's confidence. They were just as sure the Wildcats haven't seen something like they will in today's 9:40 p.m. game on CBS.

"We go harder, we trap more and we know our goals on defense better," guard Daxter Miles said. "No offense to the other teams, but they let their guards get it back easy. They weren't making the non-ball handlers try to bring it up. Those are things we don't do."

The truth probably contains elements of each side. Kentucky has been pressed and has prepared for presses. The Mountaineers are unique because of how they press and how long they press. The Wildcats will have to get used to the defense. WVU will have to adjust to Kentucky's personnel.

"It would be different if we didn't face a team that pressed this much," Kentucky assistant John Robic said. "Arkansas is very similar. This is more constant pressure. It's an every-possession thing. They press after makes, they press after misses. They're aggressive out of bounds under the basket and they're aggressive sideline out of bounds. You have to be ready for anything at every timeout."

Robic was the head coach at Youngstown State from 1999-2005 and lost games to Huggins and Cincinnati in 2000 and 2001. Robic remembered both teams liked to press.

"Nothing like this," Robic said. "It's more trapping, more random trapping."

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ROBIC, WHO HAS worked with Wildcats coach John Calipari at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky, played for Huggins at Walsh College. Robic graduated from Pittsburgh's North Hills High and played two seasons at Walsh. In his freshman season, Huggins led the school to a No. 1 NAIA ranking, an unbeaten regular season and a 34-1 record.

"We had a really good team with really tough, hard-nosed players who he got to play tougher," Robic said.

Huggins left after the season to be an assistant at UCF. Robic transferred after his sophomore year to Denison, a Division III school where he was all-conference twice and All-America as a senior. He said his success was as much about what he did there as it was what he learned at Walsh.

"I've always said the best thing he did for me came after I transferred to Denison, because he made me tougher," Robic said. "You have no choice in the matter. The way he coaches now is the way he always coached. This team now is playing the way be used to play in the past really with the pressing and taking advantage of their quickness and trapping and using multiple people. That's the way he's always coached."

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WVU guard Juwan Staten took a question in his press conference about winning for the people of West Virginia, but not before he took time to fix a mistake.

"First, let me correct myself," he said. "Last time, I said 1.2 million fans. I got a lot of tweets from the fans. It's 1.85 million in West Virginia. So, my bad for leaving those guys out.

"It's just been great to see their support. They're tweeting us, they're writing stuff to us, they're on our Instagram telling us how much they appreciate us, win or lose, and they're just behind us 100 percent, and we appreciate it."

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It won't be long after the game starts when WVU forward Devin Williams confronts the reason he almost never played in the low post in high school. Kentucky's Dakari Johnson, a 7-foot reserve forward, played his senior season with Williams at Florida's Montverde Academy.

"He took a lot of 15-footers," said Johnson, who averages 6.6 points per game and shoots 50 percent from the floor. "We had a pretty good high-low thing. I was in the paint and he was up high, but it was great playing with him. He could really space the floor with his shooting."

Kentucky hadn't seen much film on the Mountaineers by Wednesday, but Johnson saw the Mountaineers a few times on television the past two seasons.

"He's changed a lot," Williams said. "He's always been a big strong guy, but he's gotten better."

Johnson averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game, and he and Williams led Montverde to the 2013 national title at the National High School Invitations.

"I'm really happy to see my brother," Williams said. "I had the chance my junior year to go to Montverde, and I had a chance to build a relationship with his mom and his little brother, so when I get to see him, I'll be really happy to see him, and I hope I get a little time with him just to talk"

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WVU leads the nation in offensive rebounds per game (16.53), but Kentucky leads the nation by rebounding 40 percent of its missed shots. The Mountaineers rebound 69.3 percent of the opposition's misses, which ranks No. 163.

"We've got to keep those big guys off the glass," WVU assistant coach Erik Martin said. "We've got to put a body on them. If we don't box those guys out, they are easy tip-ins or dunks, and none of these kids want to be embarrassed on national TV. I told them, 'Make sure you put a body on them, or you're going to be on SportsCenter.'"

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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Chuck McGill: Miles' prediction of UK loss shows WVU isn't afraid http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329401 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329401 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:58:04 -0400 CLEVELAND - West Virginia basketball coach Larry Harrison remembers sitting on an airplane as it taxied toward a gate upon the Cincinnati Bearcats' return home from their win against Memphis State in the 1992 NCAA tournament.

Harrison was an assistant coach on Bob Huggins' staff that year, and that tournament win pushed Cincinnati to the Final Four, where one of the most iconic college basketball teams ever awaited: Michigan and the Fab Five.

The hysteria around that game started as Harrison saw what was waiting outside the airport when the team landed.

"It was raining and I looked out the window and the fence to the airport was lined with people," Harrison recalled. "That when I was like, 'Wow, this is going to be big.'"

College basketball stars have come and gone since, but rarely has there been a collection of young talent like Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose and Chris Webber - the Wolverines' freshman class in 1991-92. The whirlwind around the 2015 NCAA tournament's top overall seed, Kentucky, as it chases 40-0 perfection and college hoops immortality is similar.

Harrison can attest. Webber, one of the CBS analysts for Thursday night's Sweet Sixteen game between 5 seed WVU and 1 seed Kentucky, still deals with it. After Wednesday's shootarounds at Quicken Loans Arena, he signed autographs and took pictures with fans.

Another of Huggins' WVU's assistants, Erik Martin, posted a double-double in Cincinnati's 76-72 loss to Michigan's Fab Five in the Final Four.

Like those knee-length, baggy shorts the Fab Five made famous more than two decades ago, Martin feels the hype around UK is big.

"It might be bigger now for Kentucky," Martin said Wednesday. "One, because they're undefeated, and two, because of all this social media and Internet has really made it bigger than it was (in 1992)."

Social media example No. 1: Daxter Miles' comments about Kentucky during Wednesday afternoon's open locker room interview session with the media.

Miles made several comments that exploded on Twitter, including "I salute them getting to 36-0, but tomorrow they're going to be 36-1."

Miles, a freshman, also said "nobody's invincible" and that Kentucky's "time is going to come."

It's a youthful bravado that Martin cited as the main difference between the 1992 Cincinnati team and the 2015 Mountaineers. Those two Huggins-coached teams are constructed similarly - they certainly do not have seven 5-star recruits and two 4-star recruits in their nine-man rotation like Kentucky - with a group of rough, rugged and overlooked prove-it-to-me players.

"There are similarities because we've got a lot of newcomers," Martin said. "I think the year we went to the Final Four we had five or six newcomers, guys who had never played D-I basketball, which is similar to this team.

"The only difference with the Final Four team was we were juniors and seniors, we were kind of like men and we knew what we were getting into. This team, you have Dax Miles, a freshman, Jevon Carter, a freshman, Devin Williams, a sophomore. Even Jaysean Paige and Jon Holton, this is their first year of D-I."

Cincinnati couldn't take down the Fab Five, but maybe Miles isn't blowing smoke about WVU's chances against UK. Although, keep in mind the Wildcats are winning games by an average of 20 points and have been subject to articles about the greatest college teams of all time, and whether or not UK could beat an NBA team.

"The mentality of this (WVU) team is similar to the mentality of the team in 1992 in that they're very confident, and they are tough guys that think they have something to prove," Harrison said. "The Cincinnati team didn't have the most highly recruited guys; they had the junior college flavor that we have. It is all similar to this team, the toughness and the confidence, going up against a team that we supposedly don't have a chance against."

Harrison agreed with his fellow bench coach, Martin, in that this year's UK team is different. He lumped this team with the one the Mountaineers beat five years ago this month to advance to the 2010 Final Four.

"The team we faced in 2010 was probably just as talented and maybe had more experience," Harrison said. "I think what makes this team so unique is that they're undefeated."

And no team has ever finished a collegiate season 40-0.

Only five college programs have navigated an entire season undefeated: Long Island University (1939), San Francisco (1956), North Carolina (1957), UCLA (four times) and Indiana (1976). It has been 39 years since the Hoosiers pulled off the feat.

That's long before the Internet. Heck, the Fab Five might've been trending nonstop the last two months of the college hoops season if Twitter were around back then.

"If the Fab Five was around with the Internet, they would've been bigger than this Kentucky thing," Martin said.

The Fab Five, by the way, never won an NCAA championship. They actually lost 14 times in two seasons. Kentucky last lost April 7 in last year's national championship game.

Maybe UK and the pursuit of 40-0 will suffocate the Mountaineers. The Fab Five beat Cincinnati, but they didn't spook the opposition before or during the 1992 Final Four game.

Maybe Miles has provided a hint that the Mountaineers don't see the next opponent as anything else but the next opponent in a 68-team bracket.

"In a perfect world, who wouldn't go with the No. 1 team that's 36-0?" Miles asked the media scrum. "But this world isn't perfect; no one is invincible.

"Everybody can be beaten."

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WVU hosts meet and greet in Cleveland http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329403 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329403 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:38:23 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Mountaineer fans following the men's basketball team to Cleveland for the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game against Kentucky on Thursday night will have an opportunity to attend a meet and greet hosted by the Mountaineer Athletic Club and the WVU Alumni Association.

Beginning at 6 p.m. at Zocalo Mexican Grill and Tequileria (2071 E. 4th St., Cleveland), less than a five-minute drive from Quicken Loans Arena, a free meet-and-greet social will feature food and beverage specials from the restaurant's menu.

The Mountaineers face unbeaten Kentucky in the game at Quicken Loans Arena at approximately 9:40 p.m.

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WVU women host Duquesne in NIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329441 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM03/150329441 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:37:13 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University women's basketball team has a quick turnaround in the National Invitation Tournament, facing Duquesne in a 7 p.m. third-round meeting on Thursday at the WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (20-14) recorded their ninth 20-win season under coach Mike Carey when they defeated Hampton 57-39 in the second round on Tuesday. The winner of the WVU-Duquesne meeting will face the winner of St. John's and Villanova this weekend.

Carey's team has a 15-game home winning streak against non-conference teams at the Coliseum. A victory over the Dukes (23-10) would give the Mountaineers 17 home wins this season, tying the single-season mark set during the 2009-10 campaign.

Bria Holmes leads the way for WVU, averaging 19 points per game. She scored 646 points this season, the most for a junior in school history. She earned All-Region 5 honors from the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association. Averee Fields averages 13.1 points and Lanay Montgomery paces the team in rebounding with 7.5 per contest.

West Virginia owns a 37-9 advantage in the all-time series against Duquesne and defeated coach Dan Burt's team 79-60 on Dec. 10.

General admission tickets for Thursday's game are $7, while youth tickets are $4. For more information and to purchase tickets, who to WVUGAME.com or call 1-800-WVUGAME.

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Huggins' rear view mirror story no tall tale http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329533 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329533 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:12:09 -0400 By Mike Casazza CLEVELAND - The first thing to know about Bob Huggins is fairly obvious.

"I'm not very nostalgic," he said.

The second thing to know about the West Virginia coach is that despite his contempt for contemplation, he is a storyteller. If there were a hall of fame for that, he'd be in it already and not waiting outside for some peculiar reason.

The raconteur is in his realm this week, back in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since going to his second Final Four in 2010, back on the stage behind a microphone and before an audience. The fifth-seeded Mountaineers (25-9) play top-seeded Kentucky (36-0) in Thursday's 9:40 p.m. CBS game at Quicken Loans Arena, and the preamble will likely include the umpteenth rendition of Huggins' nearly fatal heart attack in 2002.

The story is famous now because it was Kentucky coach John Calipari's cousin who hurried out of the back of the ambulance and rushed Huggins to the hospital. There's debate over exactly what Calipari's cousin said, and the coaches might hash that out in their press conferences Wednesday afternoon because the story is just that good, but there's no debating this: It's not the quintessential Huggins story.

The quintessential Huggins story goes back to his roots in east Ohio and a coal mining village that got its name because it sits between the towns of Uhrichsville and New Philadelphia. One day as a kid in Midvale, a town Huggins has described through the years as having 500 people, two stoplights and nine bars, he and a friend were walking somewhere to play basketball. A truck stopped alongside them and the older friend driving offered to take the two boys to the game. They hopped in the truck and noticed something unusual.

"Phil," Huggins said to the driver, "you don't have a rear view mirror."

"We're not going backwards," Phil replied.

It's stuck with Huggins through the years, the hirings, the resignation, the wins, the losses, the bittersweet departure from Kansas State so he could coach his alma mater, the past two forgettable seasons and his return to relevance this season.

Of course, he's only worried about Thursday night.

"It's kind of how I've lived my life," Huggins said. "I don't look backward. I don't have a rear view mirror. I just look forward."

It is the perfect anecdote for his profession, not just as a basketball coach who can't get too high or dip too low, but for a man who shapes young lives and chisels boys into men who will one day have to navigate their own paths and all the undulations they encounter. Daxter Miles is a freshman nearing the end of a season that's seen him start every game and soar and struggle. He heard the story about the rear view mirror early on, and it hasn't left him, either.

"The past is the past, and whatever's behind you, you leave that behind you," he said. "You see what's in front of you and you don't worry about what's behind you. You let it go and focus on what's in front of you."

***

The best part about the rear-view mirror story - It's completely true.

Huggins told the rear view mirror story at a press conference last week, the day before WVU beat Buffalo in the NCAA tournament and in response to a question about coming back to Ohio, where he grew up and where he had his first three college head coaching jobs.

He has told the story three other times at NCAA tournaments through the years, and that number is smaller than the tally for the times he has told it at other events. Last week, when it received mainstream media attention, Huggins revealed his friend who hitched a ride was Gene Ford, who just retired this month as the head coach at Muskingum University.

"I definitely remember it, and we were laughing because that's just normal," said Ford, 63. "You closed your doors with bungee cords. You didn't have to worry if it was locked. You just got a couple bungee cords and hooked them to either side.

"It was more comical than anything else. You weren't thinking about relating it to life and all that stuff. It was just comical. He didn't have a rear view mirror. What did you expect the guy to say? To me, it was a normal reaction."

There weren't many diversions in a place as small as Midvale, and there certainly wasn't room for vanity. A dent in a car, a chip in a windshield, a wobbly bumper - none of it mattered.

"Never mind having a car," said Ford, whose son Geno was fired Sunday after coaching the Bradley men's team for four seasons. "You were lucky if you had four tires in Midvale. We had retreads. We thought retreads were the tires you had to buy."

Another town in Tuscarawas County had a police department, and the cruiser in Barnhill was actually a Volkswagen. The only way residents or visitors knew they were at the Barnhill Police Department was the cardboard sign posted on a window.

"The easiest way to say it was that that's just the way it was around there," Ford said. "That's not to say we lived in poverty. We took what we had and we made the most of it."

The parents worked hard and kids played sports harder. They started either as soon as they woke up or once school was out and chores and homework were finished. They returned home when the sun had set, and it was a big deal when they were allowed to camp out on someone's front porch. Football was big in the fall and baseball or Wiffle ball was it when the weather was warmer, but they'd try something different every now and then, too.

"We loved to play demolition derby on bicycles," Ford said. "You should have seen Bob."

Basketball was the sport they liked and played the most. There were courts and games everywhere, and it didn't matter what month or season it was.

"In the winter, you'd shovel the courts off and play, but you could get in gyms all the time," Ford said. "The school had a coal chute where the coal was delivered. We'd open the chute and jump down the chute into the janitor's room and go out to the hallway and open the gym. Nobody cared. We'd never steal anything or destroy anything. We wanted to play basketball."

When it was warmer, they'd travel to wherever they were going to play that day. Sometimes someone older would drive by, either on the way to a game or to work, and he'd offer a ride. One day, a truck stopped, the door swung open and Phil told Ford and Huggins to hop in.

Phil is as real as the story.

"Phil Westhafer," Ford said. "He went on to become a teacher for many years."

***

The International pickup truck was probably blue. Maybe red. Westhafer doesn't recall exactly. He had so many. Actually, his family had so many, which meant he had access to so many.

"At that time, kids weren't given things like they are today," said Westhafer, 69, who taught fifth and sixth graders math, science and social studies for 31 years at New Philadelphia's elementary school and coached middle schoolers and freshmen in just about every sport imaginable.

"Once you got your driver's license, if you got a vehicle, it'd be a beater, something handed down, if you were fortunate. Most of us were lucky to get to use mom and dad's car once a week or so."

Westhafer's uncle had an apple orchard and Westhafer and his parents would help. Sometimes Westhafer's father would tell his son to drive a load of apples to where they were used to make cider. Other times Westhafer earned the privilege of using the truck for an afternoon or an evening.

He was always grateful, and he didn't dare complain about the times he didn't get the truck. He was raised better than that, and he learned a lot from his father, Marion, who had a determined and familiar outlook for life.

"My dad was the type who thought you don't regret anything you do, and whatever you do you have to be responsible for," Westhafer said. "That was his philosophy, more or less, and kids at that time really were responsible for what they did. We got it from our parents. In a small town like that, anything you did, you didn't get away with it."

So he's pretty sure he told Huggins and Ford to never look back, and he has no doubt he picked them up quite often on the way to a game or back home. The specifics, though, are unclear because Westhafer hadn't heard the story before a stranger asked him about it last week.

He never knew one irregularity meant so much, but what he does know is a couple of the family trucks would lose their rear view mirrors.

"That was the case from time to time," he said. "It was always a beater type of truck that was getting on in years. Nobody really cared about what their cars or trucks were like. For me, it was just a way to get around at that time as a teenager. We all had more important things to be worried about."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at mikecasazza.

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Chuck McGill: UK's numbers boggle the mind, but merit a look http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329534 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329534 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 23:07:39 -0400 By Chuck McGill CLEVELAND - Most Division I athletic programs have sports information departments that put together game notes for the media and others. Most games notes have a list of "last time" records, like the last time a team has allowed a punt return for a touchdown, or list of records for a given scenario, like a team's record when shooting above a certain percentage.

The University of Kentucky has a stellar set of game notes. A total of 191 pages. All the information a columnist like myself can sit and divulge for hours and hours.

And there, on page 9 of 191, is UK's "record when" box. The information includes UK's record when the team leads at halftime, UK's record when it outrebounds an opponent, UK's record on a Thursday.

Let me play spoiler for you: UK's record is undefeated for every single category.

The Wildcats, you may have heard, are the No. 1 team in the country, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, which will declare a regional champion here at Quicken Loans Arena with games played Thursday and Saturday. Kentucky (36-0) plays fifth-seeded West Virginia (25-9) in the second of two Sweet Sixteen games inside the Q. No. 3 Notre Dame faces No. 7 Wichita State in the other regional semifinal Thursday night, and the winners play Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.

The "record when" box wasn't totally useless, though. Obviously Kentucky, with seven 5-star recruits among its nine-man rotation, have talent. The Wildcats are undefeated, so they do a lot well. But here is what stood out to me from that little info box.

Kentucky is 29-0 when leading at the half, so the Mountaineers better hang tough early. Five teams managed halftime leads against the Wildcats: Buffalo, Columbia, Mississippi, Texas A&M and Florida. That might've only served to make UK mad. Ill-advised.

The Bulls, ousted from the NCAA tournament by West Virginia last Friday, managed only four second half field goals against the Wildcats, but owned the season's largest halftime lead against UK (five points).

Columbia only made nine second-half baskets before falling. Ole Miss had the best luck, leading 38-36 at halftime and forcing the game to overtime before falling. Texas A&M led by 3 points, 28-25, at intermission but connected on only eight field goals the rest of the way. Florida led 30-28 before losing by 7 points.

UK is 29-0 when it shoots a higher percentage than its opponent, a likely outcome against West Virginia. The Wildcats haven't had an opponent shoot 50 percent yet, which is worrisome to WVU coach Bob Huggins, who understands UK is a tremendous offensive team but will be challenged on how to crack the team's defense.

"I think they're terrific defensively," Huggins said Tuesday. "I think a lot is made of how good their players are ... but (UK coach John Calipari) done a terrific job in getting them to guard, getting them to play together, getting them to share the ball. They guard so well, so long, they block one shot every five possessions. That's phenomenal when you stop and think about it.

"I think the hardest thing is figuring out ways to score."

In Calipari's six seasons at UK, he has witnessed four of his teams' six best single-game defensive performances this season. The Wildcats held Montana State to 28 points, a school record in the shot-clock era, and Missouri to 37. UCLA managed just 7 points in the first half on 3 of 37 shooting, the fewest points allowed to an opponent by a Kentucky team in the shot-clock era.

Kentucky is first nationally in winning percentage because this team is fourth overall in rebounds, second in blocks, third in points allowed and first in assists allowed.

You know what else is going to be downright frustrating? Fouling big men and watching them sink two free throws every single time. Kentucky is third nationally in free throws made and fourth in free throws attempted.

Logic tells a coach to hack away at those tall trees near the hoop, but UK's behemoths are smooth when the throws are freebies.

UK's Karl-Anthony Towns, a 6-foot-11 freshman, shoots 82.1 percent from the foul line. Trey Lyles, a 6-10 freshman, makes foul shots at a 72.2-percent clip. Even 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein is a respectable 62.1 percent.

Towns enters Thursday's game having made 28 of his last 29 free throws. Lyles has made 14 of 15.

Newspaper readers are a smart bunch, so I reckon you've figured this one out already, but UK is undefeated when it makes more free throws - and makes them at a higher percentage - than its opponents.

Huggins appeared on a national radio show Tuesday morning and said his team would need to get more shots to have a chance to win Thursday night. That plays into what the Mountaineers do, not necessarily what the Wildcats do, so the "record when" doesn't carry as much relevance here, but teams have accomplished that against No. 1 UK.

UT-Arlington had 10 more shots than the Wildcats, but shot 27 percent and lost by 48 points. Eastern Kentucky managed 11 more shots, shot 26 percent and lost by 33 points. UCLA - the team of the 7-point first half - actually hoisted seven more shots than UK that day, but shot 26 percent and lost by 39 points. Missouri outshot Kentucky by three field-goal attempts in a conference meeting, but the Tigers made only 27 percent of their attempts and lost by 49 points.

Huggins was asked on his national radio appearance how many more shots he needed to pull off the upset.

His reply: "How many ever it takes."

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WVU women advance to third round of NIT http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329548 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329548 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:14:21 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Three West Virginia University starters scored in double figures and the Mountaineers held Hampton to 26.4-percent shooting in a 57-39 Women's National Invitation Tournament second-round victory on Tuesday at WVU Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (20-14) advance to the third round at 7 p.m. on Thursday when they will host Duquesne.

Averee Fields had 16 points and seven rebounds and the Pirates (19-13) missed all nine of their 3-point attempts. Linda Stepney had 14 points and Bria Holmes 11 for the winners.

Malia Tate-DeFreitas led all scorers with 21 points for Hampton.

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WVU alumni plan for game on Thursday http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM01/150329550 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM01/150329550 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:13:05 -0400 By Samuel Speciale In the biggest West Virginia University men's basketball game of the year, the Mountaineers will face the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday in Cleveland.

While Kentucky is the odds-on favorite to win the game as well as the national championship, many Mountaineer fans are remaining cautiously optimistic.

"I learned long ago not to doubt Coach Huggins," said Kevin Berry, associate director of the WVU Alumni Association.

"It's going to be an exciting game," Berry added. "Mountaineers love a good challenge."

The game, which will be played at the Quicken Loans Arena, will mark WVU's ninth appearance in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament and the second under current head coach Bob Huggins.

The team arrived in Cleveland on Tuesday, and many more current and former Mountaineers are expected to make the trip for Thursday's game.

Berry said the association has organized a 6 p.m. meet-and-greet at Zocalo Mexican Grill and Tequileria, which is about a five-minute walk from the arena. The event was coordinated by the alumni group, the Mountaineer Athletic Club and Cleveland's alumni chapter.

Only a limited number were able to take the trip, but Berry said he is encouraging other fans to link up with an alumni chapter in their area or watch with friends and family.

While current students are sure to take in the game in Morgantown, no campus viewing parties are planned due to the university being on spring break, a school spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Should the Mountaineers upset the Wildcats, Berry said the Alumni Association will likely organize a similar meet-up three hours before the Elite 8 tilt, which also will be played in Cleveland. If the team wins, it will face either No. 3 Notre Dame or No. 7 Wichita State.

In the history of the tournament, the Mountaineers have advanced to the Elite 8 only three times - in 1959, 2005 and 2010. The last time the team advanced to the Final Four was in 2010. WVU lost by one to California in the 1959 championship game, when junior Jerry West of Chelyan played guard.

Local WVU fans unable to travel to Cleveland and looking for a place to watch have several viewing options in Charleston.

While the nightly drink and food specials will be over by the time the game starts, Adelphia Sports Bar and Grille still expects a crowd. The restaurant will show the contest on its 17 television screens.

Recovery Sports Grill also will host a viewing party and will award double points to its reward card-carrying visitors. In addition to having several drink specials, the restaurant also will have a drawing for WVU football tickets. Those who wish to have a table are advised to come a few hours before the game.

For those looking for a more cozy venue, Sam's Uptown Cafe on Capitol Street will also have the broadcast on its big screen TV.

Tipoff is scheduled for 9:45 p.m. Thursday. The game will be televised by CBS.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wvschools.

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Former Magnolia star helps propel WVU baseball rout http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329560 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM03/150329560 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 19:49:14 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Former Magnolia All-State player Justin Fox was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI and West Virginia University scored eight runs in the first inning to earn a 14-5 victory over Stephen F. Austin (7-18) on Monday at Jaycees Field.

Shaun Wood hit a first-inning grand slam, his third homer of the season, to spark the Mountaineers (11-10).

West Virginia, which also received home runs from Caleb Potter and Taylor Munden, will stay in the Lonestar State to face University of Texas at Arlington in a 3 p.m. game on Wednesday.

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WVU hopes 'ugly' game can translate to win against Kentucky http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329649 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329649 Mon, 23 Mar 2015 23:24:06 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There was a surprise Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and it had nothing to do with the lower seed beating the higher seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen after not even making the NCAA tournament the past two seasons.

When the game was in the balance and the moment arrived that swung all the factors in West Virginia's favor, Nathan Adrian wasn't called for a foul. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound sophomore forward, who shows guard skills, showed Maryland's Melo Trimble a granite shoulder.

"Generally," said Adrian, the oftentimes funnily foul-prone forward who's worn elbows from teammates and over-the-backs from opponents with neither response nor recognition all season, "they like to call fouls on me. But I don't believe that was a foul, and obviously they didn't either."

Trimble had just hit his first basket of the second half, and a 3-pointer over Daxter Miles gave him 15 points with 15 minutes left to play. Trimble attempted to guard WVU's Juwan Staten on defense and Staten led Trimble through traffic in the paint. Adrian turned toward Staten's drive, saw Trimble and thought it might be a good idea to set a screen.

Trimble never saw it coming, and Adrian's left shoulder struck the 6-3 Trimble on the chin. The freshman who led the Terrapins in scoring went down and was helped from the floor.

Miles, who knows Trimble from their AAU days in Baltimore, didn't see the play, but knew what happened.

"I heard it," he said. "He got hit hard. There was no faking his injury."

WVU guard Tarik Phillip was on the bench when it happened. He winced when he saw it, sympathetic for a fellow ball-handler who has to get help from teammates that Trimble never received.

"I saw it coming," Phillip said. "Nate's a big man, and nobody called out the screen. If I was on the other end of that, I'd be pissed."

Trimble was dazed, and he returned to the game at the next whistle, but WVU saw a player who was different. He went to the corner when Maryland had the ball, which meant Trimble wasn't handling the ball, and he was cautious as he chased his opponent around the floor on defense. Trimble then fell trying to deflect a pass in transition with 8:25 to go and was accidentally kicked in the head by 6-11, 245-pound teammate Damonte Dodd.

Trimble left the game for good, and nobody needed to tell the Mountaineers what it means to lose your point guard.

"We cut the head off," said Phillip, one of many WVU players asked to do and be more late in the regular season when Staten and Gary Browne missed games with injuries. "As soon as Juwan said, 'We cut the head off,' we knew the body was going to fall. We applied a lot more pressure on them, and they fell."

Hurting Trimble wasn't WVU's intent, but the Mountaineers wanted to test him and guard Dez Wells, who had to handle the ball while WVU denied Trimble. Wells finished with eight of the team's season-high 23 turnovers.

It's what the Mountaineers do and what they plan to do to Kentucky, the tournament's overall top seed, in Thursday's game at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. The 9:40 p.m. game will be televised on CBS.

"It's going to be hard for us to lose because there's no team in the country that plays like we do," Miles said. "We play so hard that we test people's manhood."

So, too, the Wildcats, though in different ways on the way to their historic start. No other team has ever started a season 36-0. Coach John Calipari can roll platoons of players in and out of the game. He can concentrate his lineups to match up appropriately or with superiority. Nine players were McDonald's All-Americans. Four are in the top 20 of ESPN draft expert Chad Ford's top 20 prospects for June's draft.

The Wildcats lead the nation in scoring margin and field-goal percentage defense and are in the top five of seven other major statistical rankings.

"Everyone's been watching Kentucky play all year, and their record speaks for itself, but we're going to go out there and do what we do," Staten said. "I feel like the way we play and how well we play the way we play is a great advantage for us."

The Mountaineers don't have nearly the same talent accolades on their roster, but they have their strengths. They lead the nation in steals and offensive rebounds per game and are No. 2 in assist-turnover ratio. They used 12 players in both tournament games, and in neither win did Staten, the team's leading scorer, lead the team in scoring. That was forward Devin Williams in both games.

WVU forced 40 turnovers (with 22 steals) for 41 points and had 23 offensive rebounds for 27 second-chance points in the two games in Columbus, Ohio. The bench averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and six steals per game.

"We want the game to be as ugly as we can make it so at the end of the game, whatever way it goes, both teams are going to have their tongues hanging out. That's the only way it can be," Williams said. The only way it can be is if both teams have their tongues hanging out of their mouth. We're going to go out there and compete. They're a great team and they're making history already, but we're going to go home and get rested, and we'll be prepared."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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Chuck McGill: Odds against Mountaineers, but coaches have history http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329650 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329650 Mon, 23 Mar 2015 23:22:47 -0400 By Chuck McGill CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It was 22 years ago when Bob Huggins, then 40 years old, and John Calipari, then 34, first met as coaches on the hardwood. They've met 10 times in all with Huggins holding an 8-2 edge.

That's not to say Huggins has the advantage in Thursday's matchup between the Midwest Region 5 seed, West Virginia, and the NCAA tournament's top overall seed, Kentucky, at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Heck, if Huggins had his way, all the student-athletes would sit on the benches and watch the two old men in a friendly game of 1-on-1. Winner takes Elite 8 spot.

"John and I go back 30, 40 years," Huggins said Sunday night inside Nationwide Arena, where WVU had just ousted fourth-seeded Maryland, 69-59, to advance to the second week of the NCAA tournament. "We know each other really, really well and we've played against each other a bunch of times."

Huggins, who clinched his seventh Sweet Sixteen appearance with two wins in three days in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend, caught himself. He felt he misused "played" and needed to say "coached," but it was an opportunity to let his dry humor emerge for a moment.

"Coached," he said, correcting his previous statement. "Coached against each other a bunch of times. I wish I could play against Cal - we'd have a better chance."

In ESPN's online bracket contest, 96.3 percent of participants picked Kentucky to advance to the Elite 8. That doesn't mean that 3.7 percent picked the Mountaineers to beat UK. That figure includes WVU, Maryland, Buffalo and Valparaiso. A total of 48 percent of ESPN brackets have the 36-0 Wildcats winning it all.

"It's another team," WVU forward Devin Williams said Sunday night. "They put their drawers on the same way we do."

Perhaps, but those drawers go on the bodies of 5-star recruits. Lots of 'em.

Take a look down Kentucky's roster. There are nine players who've appeared in at least 33 of UK's 36 games: Marcus Lee, Devin Booker, Aaron Harrison, Tyler Ulis, Andrew Harrison, Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Dakari Johnson. Only Booker, a freshman, and Cauley-Stein, a junior, weren't 5-star prospects out of high school ... and both of those guys were 4-star recruits.

It's not surprising the Mountaineers opened as 13-point underdogs.

"I wish I could sit here and tell you we're definitely going to win; I can't do that," Huggins said. "But I can tell you that we're not going to be scared."

The favored should be favored Thursday night, a game that might tip by 10 p.m. and certainly won't end until Friday morning. Huggins owns his 8-2 edge on Calipari, in part, because his teams have been favored in seven of 10 meetings. At least one of two coaches have had his team ranked in seven of the meetings, and the higher ranked team has won five of those matchups.

The only exceptions were in 1994, when unranked Cincinnati blew a 22-point lead but rallied to defeat No. 8 Massachusetts, and in the 2010 regional final when the Mountaineers knocked out No. 1 seed Kentucky to advance to the Final Four.

So WVU faces long odds, but that isn't anything new. The Mountaineers felt like the underdog in Columbus last Friday against No. 12 Buffalo, when WVU became a popular upset victim among the college hoops pundits. But of the final 16 teams, only three advanced to this round with a double-digit win against a higher seed: Wichita State (against Kansas), Utah (against Georgetown) and WVU (against Maryland).

"Since we started we played the underdog role," Staten said.

This will be the third time in WVU's last four NCAA tournaments it has faced Kentucky and Calipari. The Mountaineers won in 2010 to advance to the Final Four, and lost in 2011 - Calipari's second-ever win against Huggins. Calipari has only defeated Huggins when he was ranked higher - No. 24 Memphis beat unranked Cincinnati in 2003, and in last year's NCAA tournament, when UK was No. 11 and WVU No. 22.

But Huggins took the win 21 years ago when the Bearcats were unranked, and the Mountaineers were the No. 2 seed - sixth in the poll - against No. 1 seed UK - No. 2 in the poll - in 2010's Big Dance.

No matter what happens, you'll hear the respect being lobbed back and forth between the longtime coaching friends this week.

After the 2011 NCAA tournament win by Calipari, his post-game comments drifted right to Huggins.

"You're back there in the locker room rejoicing, and then you start thinking 'What's he doing now? What are his guys doing? How's he feeling?'" Calipari said after that game. "In a way you feel bad for him."

No one's going to feel bad for Cal and his army of blue-chip hoopsters. He has ended 12 of his 23 collegiate coaching seasons with at least a Sweet Sixteen appearance. This is Huggins' fourth Sweet Sixteen appearance in his last 18 seasons.

"He's an absolutely terrific coach," Huggins said of Calipari. "Very few people could do what he did at UMass and then he went into Memphis when they were struggling ... and what he did at Memphis. I've got great respect for him and what he's done and what he's been able to accomplish."

Huggins was then reminded of his 8-2 edge on his old buddy.

"Who's counting?" Huggins asked.

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Limited number of tickets available for WVU-Kentucky game http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329712 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329712 Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:31:14 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Mountaineer ticket office will have a limited number of tickets available for West Virginia's appearance in the Midwest Regional of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. West Virginia will face Kentucky beginning at approximately 10 p.m. on Thursday.

All Champion level donors of the Mountaineer Athletic Club may request tickets by calling 1-800-WVU GAME.

Priority ticket requests must have been received by 5 p.m. on Monday. Ticket requests are not guaranteed and will be filled in the best available price level based on Mountaineer Athletic Club annual giving level and priority points total. Donors will be notified via email of the status of their ticket request no later than noon on Tuesday.

Champion and Blue Scholar level donors may request two tickets, Gold Scholars may request up to four tickets, Mountaineer Scholars and Stadium Suite holders may request up to six tickets.

All tickets in the West Virginia allotment are priced at either $250 or $200 and are valid for both the Thursday and Saturday sessions of the Midwest Regional and will cover all three games played at Quicken Loans Arena.

A limited number of tickets, priced at $200 each will be made available to WVU students at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 24. WVU students with a valid I.D. may purchase one ticket to the games in the Midwest Regional on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum. Student tickets may be purchase by calling 1-800-WVU GAME or in-person at the Mountaineer ticket office in the WVU Coliseum.

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WVU trips Terps, sets up Sweet 16 showdown with UK http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329749 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329749 Mon, 23 Mar 2015 00:17:17 -0400 By Mike Casazza COLUMBUS, Ohio - On the strength of its expectations as opposed to experience, West Virginia is headed to the Sweet Sixteen. The Mountaineers, who came here with one player who had played one game in the NCAA tournament, won for the second time in three days. The No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region beat the No. 4 seed Maryland 69-59 on Sunday exactly as it thought it would.

On the eve of the second-round matchup before 19,115 at Nationwide Arena, senior Gary Browne, the one player who played that one tournament game against Gonzaga in 2012, sounded his suspicions about the Terrapins.

"They turn the ball over a lot," Browne said. "They average 12 turnovers a game - without pressure. That's a good number with no pressure. With pressure, I can't imagine what happens."

What happened was Maryland committed a season-worst 23 turnovers for 26 WVU points. Maryland committed nine in the first half and 14 in the second. Offensive fouls, poor passes, five-second inbounding violations and sloppy ball-handling dotted the game's signature sequence with the team's top player, freshman guard Melo Trimble, woozy and later out of the lineup.

"Early in the game they we're making good decisions," WVU point guard Juwan Staten said. "They were breaking our press. They were looking good, but they were using a lot more energy than they had to use all year. So we knew that at some point they would break. And they started slowing down. They started getting a little shaky with the ball. And when we seen them throw it out of bounds a couple times we tried to turn up our pressure."

The Mountaineers (25-9) won twice here to double their NCAA win total the past four years.

"This is every kid's dream, getting in the NCAA tournament, making noise and getting to the Sweet Sixteen," freshman guard Jevon Carter said.

Devin Williams led WVU with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Browne had 14 points and three 3-pointers. Jonathan Holton and Daxter Miles both had 12 points and added Staten six points on 2 for 8 shooting and six assists.

Carter (six) and Browne (five) combined for 11 of WVU's 15 steals. The rebounding battle was even at 32-32, but WVU had a 16-7 edge in second chance points, thanks to 14 offensive rebounds. WVU took 16 more shots than the Terrapins and won despite shooting 40 percent.

It's just the third time in 27 games Maryland held a team to 40 percent or worse and lost the game.

"It seems like everywhere we go people say, 'Well, it's not pretty," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "Well, I think it's beautiful. I love it. I love the fact that we can not make shots and still win, still find ways to score."

Trimble had 12 of his 15 points in the first half, but he didn't score in the last 15 minutes and didn't play in the final 8:25. He was leveled by a Nathan Adrian pick at the 15:00 mark. He left the game briefly and returned to play another seven minutes before leaving the game for good. Jake Layman had 10 points and five turnovers for Maryland (28-7). Dez Wells, the team's first-team all-conference senior and second-leading scorer, had nine points and eight turnovers.

"I think you've got to give West Virginia a lot of credit tonight," Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. "They were terrific. The press was good. We weren't ourselves. We weren't very good. I thought the first 18 minutes we really played well. And we weren't ourselves. Give them credit. And we didn't deserve to win. We didn't play well enough to win."

WVU and Oklahoma, which won here against Dayton, are all that remains from the Big 12, the RPI's top-rated conference that started the NCAA Tournament with seven teams.

"I don't really pay attention to what other people say," Browne said Saturday. "We have our goals. We have a small circle. We don't care what other people said out of our circle. We care about what we've got in our circle. Because if you care about that, then let's say at the very beginning of the season nobody had no high expectations for us, so why do we care what's going on after that?"

The Mountaineers advance to Thursday's Midwest Region semifinal in Cleveland against Kentucky, the tournament's overall top seed that happens to also be the first team to ever start a season 36-0.

"They put their drawers on the same way we put ours on," Staten said. "Like I said, since we started we played the underdog role. They didn't think we'd get past Buffalo. We got past Buffalo. They didn't think we'd get past Maryland. We got past Maryland. I'm pretty sure nobody in the world thinks we're going to get past Kentucky besides the 1.2 million that's in West Virginia. So we're going to keep doing what we do. And keep playing."

The last time WVU played in the NCAA tournament in Cleveland, it was a No. 7 seed in 2005 and beat Creighton and Wake Forest on the way to an overtime Elite Eight loss in New Mexico to Rick Pitino's Louisville.

WVU is 5-14 against Kentucky, and the two haven't met on one of their campuses since 1992, a 106-80 road loss to Pitino's Wildcats. The Mountaineers have only allowed an opponent to score 100 points in regulation once since then, and that was 17 days later in a 101-91 road loss to Maryland. WVU's assistant to the head coach, Billy Hahn, was an assistant with those Terrapins.

This is the third time in WVU's last four tournament appearances it's played the Wildcats, a reality Kentucky coach John Calipari predicted when he was on the phone with Huggins before the brackets were revealed eight days ago. Huggins said Calipari predicted the 2010 matchup in a phone call and the 2011 matchup in a text message while the coaches waited for the selection show.

The Mountaineers won the Elite Eight matchup in 2010 to reach the Final Four for the first time in 51 years and lost in the second round in 2011 to start a seven-game losing streak in conference tournaments, the NIT And the NCAA Tournament. That ended with Friday's win here against Buffalo.

Huggins, who earned $20,000 and $30,000 bonuses for appearing in the first and second rounds and earned a $40,000 bonus for getting to the third round, has had success against Calipari. He won the first five times they coached against one another when Huggins was at Cincinnati and Calipari was at UMass and Memphis. They've remained close through the years, and it was Calipari's cousin who hopped out of the ambulance to help Huggins after he had a heart attack at the Pittsburgh airport in 2002.

"The amazing thing, I am in and out of consciousness, and I remember looking at the guy, and he was Calipari's cousin," Huggins recalled years back. "He said, 'Coach, we are not going to let you die until John beats you at least once.'"

Calipari has won two out of the past five games between the two.

The Mountaineers opened up a six-point lead early in the second half, matching their largest lead from the first half. Browne made a pair of 3s, and WVU turned Maryland over after the second. Jevon Carter tried to score after his steal, but missed a layup. Williams dunked the rebound and WVU was ahead 45-39.

Trimble ended a methodical possession with a 3 over Miles, but on the other end, Adrian set a screen at the foul line and Trimble crashed into it and fell.

"I just spun into him and set a hard screen," Adrian said. "I don't think I was moving too much. Maybe I was, but they didn't call it."

Trimble was slow to his feet and sat out for one possession. He took a seat for good when he fell a second time defending in transition at the 8:25 mark. Trimble jumped to defend a pass that went over his head. He fell and then got kicked in the head by teammate 6-foot-11, 245-pound teammate Damonte Dodd.

"The doctors decided that he didn't pass enough of the test to come back in," Turgeon said.

WVU took off with the last nine points in an 11-2 run for a 55-48 lead. The Terrapins turned the ball over four times, and Miles' second basket in the run came when Tarik Phillip stole the ball and dribbled to the basket. His defender expected a layup, but Phillip dropped a pass back to Miles for a dunk and a 55-46 lead. The Terrapins called timeout with 7:04 to go.

The lead was eight points when Evan Smotrycz made his second 3 of the game. WVU ran the clock on the next possession and Carter, who was 0 for 6 from the floor and had missed three 3-point attempts, finally hit from behind the line to go ahead 59-51 with 4:13 remaining.

Smotrycz missed from 3 and WVU ran the clock again and set up Holton for a dunk on the baseline, but he traveled. Staten fouled in transition, but Dion Wiley missed the front end of the one-and-one, rebounded his miss and scored.

Holton missed inside, but Smotrycz turned the ball over and Browne turned a steal into a layup to go ahead 61-53 with 2:48 remaining. Staten missed the front end of the one-and-one with a six-point lead and 1:14 remaining, but Browne's steal was Maryland's final turnover to set the season high. The Terrapins fouled and Browne made two foul shots with 54 seconds left.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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Chuck McGill: WVU calls its shot, muscles into Sweet 16 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329750 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150323/DM03/150329750 Mon, 23 Mar 2015 00:16:26 -0400 By Chuck McGill COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Mountaineers muscled their way into the Sweet Sixteen.

They called their shot, too.

"They don't play as hard as us," West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles said Saturday, a day before the fifth-seeded Mountaineers defeated fourth-seeded Maryland, 69-59, in the NCAA tournament here at Nationwide Arena. "That's one thing I can say."

Miles, a Maryland native, seemed to know just how to torment the top men's college basketball program in his home state. He'd watched the Terrapins as he was growing up in Baltimore - his favorite player of all time is Maryland great Steve Francis - and he'd played against Maryland's fabulous freshman, Melo Trimble, on the AAU circuit.

Miles said his teams were always tougher.

It was more of the same Sunday night in the penultimate game of the NCAA tournament's opening weekend. In fact, Trimble watched the final 8:25 from the last seat on the bench after he hit the court hard for the third time and needed to be helped off.

Earlier in the second half, just after Trimble hit a 3-pointer to pull Maryland within one point, 45-44, with 15:00 left of the game, Trimble was blindsided by a Nathan Adrian screen. Trimble's head snapped back and he laid on the floor in apparent agony.

It was a clean, legal play, but it was another reminder to Trimble and the Terps of WVU's toughness. It's not new, though.

"We played one way all year," WVU senior point guard Juwan Staten said. "We haven't really changed up how we play for anybody, so why start now?"

A game that had 10 lead changes and six ties made its final, fortuitous turn on another muscle play. The Mountaineers were again up by one point, 47-46, moments after Maryland's Dez Wells scored on a layup. WVU's 6-foot-9, 255-pound big man, Devin Williams, took the ball on the block and tried to score. He failed, but boxed out two Terrapins big men, corralled the offensive rebound and laid the ball in the basket.

As Williams smacked his hands once and flexed his muscles, Maryland's Evan Smotrycz fell hard to the court.

"West Virginia has always played with toughness since Huggins has been there," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "All his teams have played that way."

WVU went on an 8-0 run there, a spurt capped by a Miles dunk that gave WVU its largest lead to that point, 55-46, with 7:15 left.

It seems apropos that the only Maryland kid on West Virginia's roster helped send Maryland home.

It is also fitting that the Mountaineers did it the way they have all season.

West Virginia and Maryland are two programs that turned around their fortunes this season largely because of defense. Coming into Sunday's game, the Mountaineers were allowing 6.7 fewer points per game this season than last. The Terrapins were allowing 4.5 fewer points per game this season than last.

Both programs flipped last year's 17-win season into NCAA Tournament berths because of it.

But it was WVU's defense that forced 23 turnovers to Maryland's 10. It was the Mountaineers who improved to 21-0 this season when holding a team to fewer than 70 points.

West Virginia is back in the Sweet Sixteen for the sixth time in its last nine NCAA appearances, but what comes next might not be so savory. Top-seeded Kentucky looms Thursday in Cleveland. Not simply the top seed in the Midwest Region, but the tournament's overall No. 1 and the only undefeated team in Division I hoops. In fact, four victories stand between UK and a feat some thought impossible in the days of the 68-team brackets - a perfect season.

WVU will get the opportunity to provide that first blemish at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena - also known as the Q - which will host a Midwest Region semifinal that also includes No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 7 Wichita State. Kentucky is in pursuit of a 40-0 record and a national championship, and it'd be the first program to go through a season unscathed since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers coached by Bob Knight.

UK romped through the opening weekend with wins by 23 and 13 points. The Wildcats have won eight consecutive NCAA tournament games as a No. 1 seed, which includes this year's tournament and the 2012 national title run. The last loss as a No. 1 seed? West Virginia in the 2010 East Region final.

That just so happens to be the last top-12 team the Mountaineers defeated in road or neutral games ... until Sunday night. West Virginia had dropped 12 in a row top top-12 teams away from home, but ended that skid and prevented Maryland a trip to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2003.

Next up: Big Blue in the Q.

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NCAA runner-up Moisey believes future is bright for WVU wrestling http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150322/DM03/150329762 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150322/DM03/150329762 Sun, 22 Mar 2015 22:19:37 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Monday is the first day of spring break at West Virginia University. It is the third day of wrestler Zeke Moisey's life as a college all-American and a national runner-up. The freshman from Northampton, Pa., advanced to the national championship at 125 pounds Saturday, the county's first unseeded freshman to make the final match in 12 years.

"At the beginning of the year, I didn't expect to make it that far, so I guess it's an accomplishment," Moisey said Sunday, "but losing in the finals is only going to motivate me to make it back there to win it next year."

Moisey lost a 9-5 decision to Ohio State's Nathan Tomasello, a redshirt freshman who's becoming something of a rival already, and then commenced big plans for the week many others spend in the sand and the sun.

"I want to get nice and fat," he said.

Wrestling will be pushed to the recesses of his mind for awhile, and he'll indulge in some of the bad habits wrestlers have to shed as they try to make and keep weight. He'll also take some time to heal injuries that bothered him and that appeared throughout the season.

WVU's first All-American since 2007, Moisey wrestled pretty much all season with a sprained right ankle. At the beginning of the national tournament, he picked up turf toe on the left foot on his big toe. In the second period against Tomasello, Moisey had what he called a "little knee injury" he confessed is a sprained MCL.

The match stopped when it happened, and when Tomasello and Moisey were scrambling on the edge in the third period and Tomasello tried to protect his lead and avoid a takedown, he tugged Moisey's left foot, which sent a shock up through his knee.

"To be honest with you, the ankle doesn't really affect me and the toe, once the match starts and adrenaline takes over, I block it out and don't really think about it until after the match and I deal with it afterward," he said. "The knee felt real loose, like I couldn't push off very much."

Yet Moisey had a chance, the sort of chance he'd created and capitalized on throughout the tournament.

He had five near-fall points in his first match, a 14-6 major decision over Utah Valley's Chasen Tolbert. In the next round against the No. 2 seed, Cornell's Nahshon Garrett, Moisey picked up two points for a takedown in the opening minute and then added two more quick points on near-falls. He won a 5-3 decision. Up 3-1 in the third period against the No. 7 seed, Oklahoma State's Eddie Kilmara, Moisey took a shot with 20 seconds left and was rewarded with two points for a takedown in a 5-2 decision.

Moisey, who was 32-14 this season and was at this best at the end of the schedule, topped all of that in the semifinal. He pinned Iowa's Thomas Gilman, the No. 6 seed, in 52 seconds when Moisey spotted an error and pounced for a picturesque, suffocating cradle.

"I think he was a little angry I took him down first, so he got up and he was ready to start beating up on me, but he didn't get his hands down right away," Moisey said. "I fired off another shot, and he wasn't ready for it. His left knee was a little too close to his head. He made a mistake and I capitalized on it."

During the season, Moisey was 0-1 against Garrett and 0-2 against Kilmara. In the finals, he'd face fourth-seeded Tomasello, who was 2-0 against Moisey during the season and 1-0 in high school - and Moisey was good in high school, too. He was a state champion as a junior and senior at 126 pounds at Bethlehem Catholic, which won four state titles with Moisey.

"I'd been knocking off guys I'd been losing to all year long, so I knew that didn't matter," Moisey said. "I was ready to go."

Tomasello led 2-1 after the first period and Moisey evened the match with an escape early in the second. Tomasello took two points from a takedown to end the period and then started the third with a point for riding time. The title was close, and then Moisey nearly stunned Tomasello. He went for a familiar takedown, something called the "cement mixer" that his high school is known for.

Tomasello was on his back and Moisey was two points closer, but on the verge of something special. A crowd that grew to support Moisey all week rose to its feet. Moisey had a shot at a pin, and Tomasello knew it. He somehow avoided giving Moisey any near-fall points and then escaped with for a point and a 6-4 lead. He'd add points for a takedown and riding time and prevailed.

"I had him," Moisey said. "He was on his back and I didn't capitalize. He did a good job fighting me off. He was a little too quick for me here, and I couldn't hold him down."

Michael Morales and Jake Smith also had wins at 141 and 197 pounds for the Mountaineers at the national meet, and WVU finished in 20th place as a team, the first top-25 finish since 2005. Greg Jones won a national title at 184 that season, which was the last time a Mountaineers wrestler reached the semifinals.

Moisey believes WVU will be a top-five program before he graduates, based largely on his faith in first-year coach Sammie Henson. In his past 18 years as either an assistant or head coach, Henson has had at least one All-American.

"I definitely knew about the streak and it feels pretty good to say I helped keep it alive for him this year," Moisey said.

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