By Colin Dunlap | 10:35 a.m. Sunday
Made it to the media room this morning, which has been the home for the past few days for gentlemen such as Jack Bogaczyk and Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail (pictured below)
The buzz around here is how West Virginia is going to deal with this defense.
Who is going to bring the ball up the floor for the Mountaineers?
How are they going to knife through the pressure?
What are they going to do against Missouri once they get the ball into the forecourt?
Can the Mountaineers keep their turnover total around about a dozen or so?
All question that will, undeniably, decide what happens here today.
11:43 a.m.: Syracuse game starts at 12:10. And, rest assured, the town has been invaded by these Syracuse people.
12:09 p.m.: A question: Think Jason Bay is watching this Syracuse-Gonzaga game?
12:19 p.m.: This place feels like the Carrier Dome. So many Syracuse fans. Here is hoping they don't stick around for the second game.
12:33 p.m.: If Syracuse loses this game to Gonzaga, the decision to keep Rick Jackson in during the first half with two fouls -- and him picking up his subsequent third -- will be an enormous head-scratcher. Heck, even if they win, it is a head scratcher.
12:42 p.m.: 'Cuse up 10 with 6:43 remaining before the half. Gonzaga still on West Coast time right now and the Zags look to be in a lot of trouble, particularly because this is a veritable home game for the Orange.
1:08 p.m.: Halftime of this one and, just by the pulse of this building, I think the Zags might be done for it. Syracuse is up at halftime, 47-32 and I think it very well could be over. I just don't see the Orange letting it slip away. Also, Syracuse is 7 for 14 from deep -- that's the way it sustained Jackson's foul trouble.
1:37 p.m.: Here are the Zags getting prepped to come on the floor for halftime. They had this big rah-rah sort of "we got 20 minutes to get it together" arm-in-arm, sort of meeting. Hasn't worked. They are getting run out of the gym. Cuse up by 28 with 13 minutes left.
And here are the awesomely awesome, tremendously tremendous Mountaineer Slumber Party Hotel Tapes from up here in Buffalo.....enjoy:
2:17 p.m.: Gonzaga got its doors blown off -- 87-65.
Now, onto the West Virginia-Missouri game:
2:18 p.m: Just saw some brilliance in the hallway. Gus Johnson, he of CBS announcing fame, walked up to the Mountainette mascot in the catacombs of the HSBC, gave her a high-5 and said, "Congratulations, I think that's really cool."
One would assume he meant the Mountaineer mascot being a female.
2:38 p.m.: Officials are Jim Burr, Doug Shows and Ray Nitili. Game about to get going.
2:49 p.m.: Pretty solid opening few minutes (for a change) for the Mountaineers. They jumped to an 8-0 advantage and, more important, didn't allow Missouri to set up its press because the Tigers simply couldn't make shots. It is 9-6 now, with 15:45 remaining and West Virginia has had a few empty possessions....they really should be up by about 8.
2:58 p.m.: With 14:12 left and West Virginia up, 15-8, I will be the first to say: I am not all that impressed with Mizzou's defensive pressure.
3:03 p.m.: The Tigers have turned it up a little bit, as the pressure is a bit different right now...15-14 Mountaineers. I can't figure out if I am more impressed by a tough halfcourt defense (like Pitt, WVU, etc.) or something like this. Honestly, I think a very tough halfcourt defense creates more problems.
3:14 p.m.: With West Virginia now ahead, 23-17, this much is a safe bet: If Da' Sean Butler keeps getting loose, it will be a long day for Missouri. He hit two 3s back-to-back and now, with Casey Mitchell in the game, it could open him up even more.
3:24 p.m.: Missouri has now jumped out of the fullcourt stuff (a little) and it lead to them jumping back into it.
3:32 p.m.: Strange exchange at the end of the half. The Mountaineers are holding a 30-25 lead at the half and, as the teams were leaving the floor, official Jim Burr stuck around and talked to Mizzou coach Mike Anderson for a little while. I don't like it -- at all. Just get into the locker room if you are the official.
4:01 p.m.: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much standing around for WVU on offense. They are up 31-29 early in the second half.
4:06 p.m.: That was just a 12:55 drought without a field goal.
4:14 p.m.: Michael Dixon from Missouri is about 4 gears faster than anyone WVU has.
4:25 p.m.: With the Mountaineers ahead, 52-45, the game is beginning to become too chaotic. They need to relax if they want to walk home with this one.
4:29 p.m.: Jim Burr and Huggins have tremendous exchanges. Going into that timeout, Huggins was crushing him and Burr pointed at the Mountaineers, who were huddled, waiting for Huggins and just said, "Bobby, go do your job now." Huggins couldn't think of anything else to do and just chuckled and walked off into his huddle.
7:33 p.m.: Early game story:
By Colin Dunlap, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BUFFALO, N.Y.-- No. 2-seed West Virginia (29-6) was shaky at times
but did enough to win, earning a 68-59 victory against No. 10-seed
Missouri (23-11) in an East Region second-round NCAA tournament game
this afternoon at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.
De'Sean Butler paced the Mountaineers with 28 points, making 12 of his 13 free throws in a game that lacked offensive continuity on both sides throughout.
West Virginia advances to play No. 11-seed Washington (26-9) in the Sweet 16 round on Thursday in Syracuse, N.Y.
West Virginia hopped to an 8-0 lead, nullifying Missouri's early attempts at playing its defense-first 'Fastest 40 Minutes In Basketball' style as the Tigers couldn't make shots -- thus, they couldn't set up their press.
The Tigers crept back though, as West Virginia held a 15-8 lead with 14:12 remaining before halftime, and Missouri turned that into just a one-point disadvantage -- at 15-14 -- with 11:42 to go.
The game stayed locked tight from there into the half, with a 3-pointer from the wing by Missouri's Kim English with just under 3 minutes remaining, tying it at 25-25.
Even as West Virginia was cold from the field at the end of the first half -- their final seven points of the opening half came at the free throw line -- the Mountaineers were able to advance to a 30-25 lead at the intermission.
The Mountaineers then broke an almost 13-minute stretch without a field goal, upping their lead to 36-29 with 16:08 remaining in the second half.
West Virginia senior Butler hit three free throws with 11:28 left to stretch his team's lead to 50-41.
But Missouri wouldn't relent, cutting it to 56-53 on a 3-pointer from Zaire Taylor with 4:26 remaining.
From there, the Mountaineers fought off Missouri, doing just enough to keep them away and move ahead in the bracket.