West Virginia Mountaineers Walk Into Elite Eight, Defeat Huskies 69-56

Daniel KablackCorrespondent IIIMarch 26, 2010

SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 25:  Kevin Jones #5 of the West Virginia Mountaineers attempts a shot against Matthew Bryan-Amaning #11 of the Washington Huskies during the east regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 25, 2010 in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Winners of nine straight games, the West Virginia Mountaineers are riding high off a conference championship.

And after shaking off some early woes, it really showed.

Thursday night, the Mountaineers put away the Washington Huskies representing the Pac-10 during a Sweet Sixteen match-up, walking into the Elite Eight, 69-56.

This comes just minutes after Syracuse, a number-one seed in this NCAA tournament, was eliminated by Butler, making West Virginia the last team from the Big East remaining.

And they're doing their best to give the conference a good name.

The Mountaineers came into the game minus starting point guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant, who is out of the tournament with an injured foot, which happened during a practice just a few days ago.

Freshman Casey Mitchell would start in his place and record six points, but was cycled throughout the game with junior, Joe Mazzula.

With the victory, the Mountaineers recorded their 30th win this season, setting a new school record for wins in a season, set by a 1958-59 team lead by NBA icon Jerry West.

Washington looked evenly matched with the men from Morgantown during the first half, with WVU turning the ball over 11 times due to pressure set by the Huskies defense and some untimely mistakes by West Virginia's ball handlers.

The Huskies reached the 20-minute break, leading at halftime by two points.

Coming out of the half, West Virginia's rebounding and defense showed up, at one point going on a 24-6 run and out rebounding the Huskies 40 to 25 for the game.

Washington's shooters could not get on target, missing 11 of 14 to start the second half.

They lead as late as 15:54 in the latter half of the game, but the Mountaineers got into rhythm and never looked back.

Sophomore forward Kevin Jones lead the Mountaineers in scoring with 18 points, going 3-4 from the three-point arc and 7-11 all together.

West Virginia All-American forward Da'Sean Butler added 14 points and seven rebounds and Devin Ebanks recorded 12 points and seven rebounds.

"We wanna win and we gotta keep winning games," West Virginia Forward Da'Sean Butler said in an interview after the game, "we're one win away from the Final Four."

The Huskies were out-played during the second half, meanwhile, the officials' call happy whistles angered Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, who ripped off his sports jacket, inciting a technical foul.

Huskies' forward Justin Holiday recorded 14 points, while point guard Isaiah Thomas dropped 13 points but fouled out before the end of the game.

The Mountaineers will take on the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday at 7:05 PM (Subject to Change) who defeated Cornell in the other East regional semi-final 62-45. Cornell had lead the game 10-2 only to see their lead vanish within a few minutes.

When asked where the team is getting all this extra energy, "Why wouldn't you wanna push extra hard?", Mountaineer's Wellington Smith said after the game.

I couldn't agree with you more.

If all goes well, I hear a mustard-colored suit calling West Virginia coach Bob Huggins' name.

Game Notes

Da'Sean Butler injured his right hand halfway through the second half but finished the game.

The Mountaineer's recorded their sixth straight game holding the opposing team under 59 points.

Huskies' Quincy Pondexter would see limited action getting in early foul trouble. He recorded only seven points and three rebounds. Venoy Overton recorded 10 points and four rebounds off the bench.

Four Mountaineer players recorded seven rebounds or more; Kevin Jones (8), Da'Sean Butler (7), Devin Ebanks (7), and Wellington Smith (7).

The Mountaineers shot over 75-percent from the charity stripe for the third time in this year's NCAA tournament.

Daniel Kablack is founder of mySportsChat.com and a writer for Whotheman.com

You can follow Daniel Kablack on Twitter


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.