WVU falls to Villanova in Sweet 16

by Leon Thompson March 24, 2018, 12:34
WVU falls to Villanova in Sweet 16

West Virginia has been termed "Press Virginia" because of its in-your-face, full-court pressure. Updates photos, links. With AP Photos. The Wildcats defeated West Virginia 90-78 Friday to earn a berth in the Elite 8 and they did so taking the Mountaineers' best shot. Jalen Brunson scored 27 points to lead Villanova. The Wildcats had zero trouble with 16-seed Radford in an 87-61 win, then proceeded to score 49 second-half points against an elite defensive team in Alabama, rolling to an 81-58 drubbing.

Villanova (33-4) will play Sunday against the victor of Friday night's second semifinal game between No. 2 seed Purdue and No. 3 Texas Tech for the right to go to the Final Four for the second time in three years. That Villanova managed to lead by two at halftime appeared nearly anomalous, and was largely thanks to the cool playmaking of senior point guard Jalen Brunson, who scored 16 points in the opening period.

Miles led West Virginia with 11 points in the first 20 minutes and Brunson scored 16 for Villanova. Jevon Carter and Sagaba Konate both had 12 points. "In my opinion he was the most valuable player (against Seton Hall), because if his mind wasn't so right to get healthy that fast, there's no way we would have won that game". They also play that relentless, pressure-all-time defense that gives teams fits, especially this time of year.

The Wildcats committed 16 turnovers but compensated for it defensively, limiting the Mountaineers (26-11) to 27-of-70 shooting on the night (.386), including 7-of-28 from beyond the 3-point arc (.250).

Turnovers. West Virginia is going to do whatever they can to speed Villanova up and make them turn the ball over, but Villanova has the guards to handle the pressure that the Mountaineers are going to throw at them.

West Virginia had all the momentum for a stretch in the second half.

Carter was called for his third foul with 17:33 left in the game. West Virginia's leading scorer, Daxter Miles Jr., collected three quick fouls and went to the bench for about 10 minutes. I'm trying to say the right things.

West Virginia was able to adjust for a while and took advantage of a more than three-minute Villanova scoring drought to take a 60-54 edge with just over 11 minutes left.

Villanova has the same characteristics, largely because of the leadership of Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth, which came through once again.

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The South Region is guaranteed to send a team to the Final Four that nobody saw coming - either Sister Jean's clutch-shooting Loyola squad or a Kansas State team without its best player. It doesn't matter who we're playing against. "We expect him to play at a high level every game". The Wildcats are 5.5-point favorites, but West Virginia has the tools to make anyone uncomfortable.

"I never played like this", Self said. "When you over help they make shots". Villanova burped up the ball too often to win in the first half.

The Wildcats came out strong, hitting their first six attempts from the floor including two 3-point baskets to take an early 14-8 lead.

"Konate is one of the best rim protectors I've seen in college basketball in a long time", Wright said.

FAMILIAR POSITION: The Mountaineers have reached the Sweet 16 in eight of their last 12 NCAA appearances, including last season.

Villanova: The Wildcats are primed for another title run with their talent led by player of the year contender Brunson, the experience of the 2016 title and the lessons learned from early tournament departures in several years, including a second-round loss to Wisconsin last year. They gave me a lot of great info, and still I felt like I wasn't prepared enough the first time. It started with defense, of course - a stop here, a blocked shot there - and that translated into points on the other end.

Despite the outcome, Carter said he is proud of his classmates' four-year run.

Syracuse: The Orange won their first four game over Arizona State 60-56, then upset 6th seeded TCU 57-52, and then beat one of the tournament favorites and 3rd seeded Michigan State 55-53.

Since 1983, Mark Herrmann has coveredBrookhaven, Southampton and East Hampton on the news side, and high schools, the Islanders, the Mets and golf for Newsday sports.His assignments have includedthe Olympics, March Madness, the Triple Crown, Stanley Cup, Super Bowl and World Series.

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