No. 10 Mountaineers upset No. 9 ‘Cats
Some situations conjure up great images. Even if they don’t happen.
West Virginia had just played its worst half of the season
against Villanova on Saturday. Those who know the coaching
techniques of Bob Huggins would expect him to put on a tremendous
display in the locker room as he tries to right his team in the
last game of the regular season.
There was no chair throwing, no wild tirade discussing the
horrible offensive effort of the first half. There wasn’t even a
“He didn’t go nuts. I was surprised,” Da’Sean Butler said of
his coach, who did get a technical foul in the second half. “I said
to myself, ‘I don’t know how he expects us to come back with him
sitting there and talking regularly.”
There might be a new halftime attitude in Morgantown as the
10th-ranked Mountaineers rallied from that ugly first half to beat
No. 9 Villanova 68-66 in overtime.
“I told the guys at halftime ‘I don’t know if we can play any
worse,” Huggins said.
The turnaround was quick.
Trailing 29-16 at halftime after a poor shooting trifecta of
24 percent from the field (6 of 25), 16.7 percent on 3s (2 of 12)
and 20 percent from the free throw line (2 of 10), the Mountaineers
opened the second half with an 18-5 run to tie the game. They
managed to score as many points as they did in the first half by
6:23 into the second.
“We’ve done it all year but I don’t think I can take any more
of these kind,” Huggins said. “If there’s such a thing as making
people overconfident we’re the masters at it, but our guys
Butler scored 21 points, including the decisive basket with
5.8 seconds left in overtime, grabbed 10 rebounds and finished 13
of 14 from the foul line for the Mountaineers (24-6, 13-5), who
will be the No. 3 seed in next week’s Big East tournament.
Villanova, which has lost four of its last six games, would
be the No. 2 seed if Rutgers beats Pittsburgh later Saturday, and
the Wildcats would be No. 4 if the Panthers win.
Butler’s winning drive came after the Mountaineers had taken
possession with 26 seconds left when Villanova was forced into a
35-second shot clock violation.
“I looked right at [Jonnie West] and saw him open a little in
the corner but Scottie [Reynolds] jumped right in the passing lane
so that was my first step,” Butler said. “Then I looked at Kevin
Jones and he was open but the guy on me dropped right back off. So
I was in air, pulled up, put in on the glass and I prayed. The
angle it hit the backboard I knew it was in.”
Reynolds, who led the Wildcats (14-6, 13-5) with 17 points,
had an open 3-point attempt from the corner but it bounced off the
rim as the buzzer sounded.
“Butler made a hell of a running bank shot,” Villanova coach
Jay Wright said. “Reggie Redding found Scottie at the end, he just
didn’t make it. It’s the Big East. Now we just have to get ready
Villanova forced overtime when Corey Fisher made his only
3-point attempt of the game with 7.7 seconds to play to make it
60-60. Huggins was signaling wildly for a timeout but none of the
officials saw it — it was pretty loud in the Wachovia Center —
and the Mountaineers settled on a long 3-point attempt by Devin
Ebanks that missed everything.
Wellington Smith had 15 points — 13 after halftime — for
West Virginia, which has won five of six. Ebanks had 12.
Fisher had 12 points for the Wildcats, who missed their
season low for points by one despite playing an extra 5 minutes and
were held 18 points below their season average that leads the Big
West Virginia, the Big East’s top defensive team allowing
64.8 points on average, did an exceptional job on Reynolds, the
Wildcats’ leading scorer at 18.9 points per game. The 6-foot-2
senior finished 5 of 16 from the field, including 1 of 9 from
3-point range, struggling throughout against West Virginia’s taller
guards who all had a chance to cover him.
“They just had a hand in my face and they’re very long,”
Reynolds said. “It was two great teams battling each other. They
just made another play better than we did.”