O≠ense helps WVU score trip to Sweet 16
WEST VIRGINIA 83, NOTRE DAME 71
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).