O≠ense helps WVU score trip to Sweet 16


The Washington Post Sunday - - NCAA TOURNAMENT -

Don’t be fooled by the West Vir­ginia Moun­taineers re­fer­ring to them­selves as “Press” Vir­ginia as a result of their re­lent­less de­fen­sive pres­sure. This team can score. Led by Jevon Carter’s 24 points, the Moun­taineers out­shot the Fight­ing Ir­ish in an 83-71 win Satur­day in Buf­falo to clinch their third Sweet 16 berth since 2010.

“They thought of us as de­fen­sive play­ers,” guard Tarik Phillip said. “But the coaching staff in­stilled a lot of con­fi­dence in us, helped us de­velop our of­fen­sive game, and we be­came pretty good of­fen­sive play­ers.”

West Vir­ginia en­tered the tour­na­ment lead­ing the na­tion in forc­ing 20.4 turnovers, while also rank­ing 15th in av­er­ag­ing 82 points. The Moun­taineers topped 80 points for the 18th time, while also break­ing the sin­gle-sea­son school scor­ing record set by the Jerry West-led 1958-59 squad.

Dax­ter Miles scored 18 points, and Esa Ah­mad had nine re­bounds.

Carter led the way in match­ing a sea­son high, while go­ing 8 of 15, in­clud­ing 4 of 5 on three-point­ers.

“Just stay­ing con­fi­dent,” said Carter, the Big 12’s de­fen­sive player of the year. “When we step on the court, we feel like we can beat them. We got hot early and kept go­ing from there. We keep that chip on our shoul­der.”

The Moun­taineers con­tinue to over­come the sting of last year’s first-round tour­na­ment col­lapse, when they lost to 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin.

Now they’re off to the round of 16 for the first time since 2015 and for the fourth time since Coach Bob Hug­gins took over in 2007.

Bonzie Col­son led the Fight­ing Ir­ish in hit­ting 10 of 15 shots, scored 27 points and had eight re­bounds. Oth­er­wise, the rest of the team­mates were stymied.

BUT­LER 74, MID­DLE TEN­NESSEE 65: Ke­lan Martin scored 19 points, and the Bull­dogs lim­ited the Blue Raiders’ scor­ers with smoth­er­ing de­fense to ad­vance to the Sweet 16.

But­ler (25-8) is go­ing to the re­gional semi­fi­nals for the first time since 2011, when it wrapped up back-to-back ap­pear­ances in the na­tional ti­tle game.

An­drew Chrabascz added 15 points for fourth-seeded But­ler, in­clud­ing a three-pointer with 3:25 left that snapped a 7-0 run for Mid­dle Ten­nessee to get the lead back to 62-56.

Con­fer­ence USA player of the year JaCorey Wil­liams fin­ished with 20 points but had to work hard for nearly ev­ery bucket for No. 12 seed Mid­dle Ten­nessee (31-5).

ARI­ZONA 69, SAINT MARY’S 60: Lauri Markka­nen and Al­lonzo Trier com­bined for 30 points, and the sec­ond-seeded Wild­cats ral­lied to de­feat the sev­enth-seeded Gaels in Salt Lake City.

The teams went back and forth in the sec­ond half un­til Ari­zona went on an 11-2 run sparked by Trier. He scored nine of those 11 points dur­ing the stretch with a drib­ble-drive layup, two midrange jumpers and a three-pointer. The run gave the Wild­cats a 55-48 lead and Saint Mary’s never led again.

Ari­zona shot 59.1 per­cent from the field in the sec­ond half.

PUR­DUE 80, IOWA STATE 76: Caleb Swani­gan had 20 points, 12 re­bounds and seven as­sists, and the Boil­er­mak­ers reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years with a wild vic­tory in Mil­wau­kee.

The Cy­clones erased a 19-point deficit in the sec­ond half, tak­ing their first lead of the game on Deonte Bur­ton’s two free throws with 3:11 left. But P.J. Thomp­son re­sponded with a crit­i­cal three­p­ointer for Pur­due, and Swani­gan made sev­eral huge plays in the fi­nal min­utes.

Af­ter Dakota Mathias missed the front end of a one-and-one with 11 sec­onds left and Pur­due cling­ing to a 78-76 lead, Swani­gan tracked down the re­bound to set up Thomp­son’s free throws with seven sec­onds re­main­ing. Monte Mor­ris missed a three-pointer on the other end, and time ran out for Iowa State.

Vince Ed­wards had 21 points and 10 re­bounds for Pur­due (27-7).

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