West Virginia Stuns Kentucky, Advances to Final Four

Daniel KablackCorrespondent IIIMarch 27, 2010

SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 27:  (L-R) Joe Mazzulla #21 and Da'Sean Butler #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrate with the East Regional trophy after West Virginia won 73-66 against the Kentucky Wildcats during the east regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 27, 2010 in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

If there was any reason in the world for West Virginia coach Bob Huggins to be happy, what he helped his team do tonight should be enough.

Saturday night, the Mountaineers defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in the East Region Final, 73-66.

In the beginning, the Mountaineers looked outmatched by the Wildcats, who have an advantage in height, with 6'11" DeMarcus Cousins, and speed.

Speed that West Virginia lacked due to the absence of point guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant, the quick-footed play-caller from New York, who broke a bone in his foot during practice about two-weeks ago.

John Wall was having a field day as well, weaving through the West Virginia defense that just seemed like it wasn't fast enough. He recorded eight points in the first half.

The Wildcats' started the first-half looking like the better team, but dominance with a young team can only last so long.

And with a little luck from behind the line, and the Mountaineers were on their way.

West Virginia hit eight three-pointers in the first half and went an amazing 8 of 15 from the three-point arc. They held a 24-20 lead with 2:40 left in the first half before hitting their first free-throws.

The Mountaineers took the lead into half-time, 28-26.

Starting the second-half, that trademark Bob Huggins 1-3-1 showed up.

Even getting out-rebounded, West Virginia took care to try to get some points on every possession.

Within a few minutes, they were up by 10 as Joe Mazzula really took off. The junior point guard who nearly recorded a triple-double against Duke two years ago in the Second-round of the NCAA tournament, recorded 13 points before fouling out with 2:20 left in the game.

Exchanging baskets with West Virginia, the Wildcats were making nearly no progress the last five minutes of the game.

It took a three-point jumper by Darnell Dodson to bring the lead within ten points, with less then two-minutes remaining. 

Through a series of fouls and a couple turnovers by West Virginia, the Wildcats brought the game within six points with 30 seconds remaining.

A time-out by Da'Sean Butler would give Coach Huggins a few extra minutes to scream at his players and try to get them together to finish the game out.

Kentucky's Dodson would hit another three-pointer with 25 seconds left to bring the game within four points.

That's as close as they would get.

A missed three-pointer by Darnell Dodson and a couple free-throws by Da'Sean Butler, and West Virginia wrapped up it's first Final Four appearance in 51 years.


Game Notes

Elite Defense: West Virginia has held it's opponent under 65 points for seven straight games.

Kentucky's John Wall lead the Wildcats in scoring with 19 points and nine rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins recorded 15 points and eight rebounds, while Patrick Patterson recorded 13 rebounds and eight points.

Four West Virginia players scored in double-figures: Da'Sean Butler (18), Joe Mazzula (17), Kevin Jones (13), Devin Ebanks (12).

Kevin Jones had nine rebounds while Devin Ebanks recorded seven and Da'Sean Butler recorded six.

Last time West Virginia advanced to the Final Four, Jerry West's Mountaineers ended up losing to California 71-70 in the championship game.


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