Red Storm-Mountaineers: WVU Outlasts St. John's, Sets Up for Postseason

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Red Storm-Mountaineers: WVU Outlasts St. John's, Sets Up for Postseason
Years ago, when Allen Iverson played for Georgetown, the Hoyas were behind by one against West Virginia at the Coliseum with about four seconds left.

Iverson grabbed a ball off the WVU board and dribbled the length of the court, weaving like uncatchable lightning between defenders who suddenly looked planted to the hardwood. He went coast to coast and dropped in a layup for the Georgetown win as time expired.

That, essentially, is what WVU guard Joe Mazzulla did today.

The Mountaineers were in control for most of the game but a St. John's swell in the second half gave them a four-point lead with less than a minute to play. But with WVU down by two with only 5.5 seconds to play, Mazzulla took an inbounds pass on the fly at the free-throw line and headed upcourt.

St. John's tried to trap Mazzulla at halfcourt but he was too quick for them and split the defenders, finding clear sailing to the hoop, dropping in a layup at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, where Joe Alexander took over, scoring seven of his 29 points.

Alexander truly is playing the best basketball of his college career over the past three games at the most important time in the season, scoring 32, 32, and 29 points to carry the Mountaineers. His mid-range jump shop, turnaround, typically, has become indefensible.

I'm starting to think that the ugly loss to Cincinnati, when the Mountaineers shot 20 percent from the field, may have been the last loss of the Old Era, a team of pure shooters. Under former coach Beilein, when the shots were falling like rain, WVU could open up a 20-point in a matter of minutes, staggering an opponent out of a game. But when the shots didn't fall, each missed shot led to further frustration and it seemed like a one-weapon team. (Sort of like the WVU football team under the former coach in losses to South Florida and Pitt.)

But this edition of the WVU basketball team, under Bob Huggins, seems to have plenty of ways to score and scrap even if Alex Ruoff goes cold. It also has opened up Darris Nichols to shoot more, taking some of the point-guard duties off him.

So WVU is in good shape heading into the Big East tournament, in which they should be a fifth or sixth seed. I think WVU is in the NCAA tourney, but would still love to see them make some noise in the Big East tournament (maybe a payback win over UConn), which would help NCAA tourney seeding.
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