|West Virginia's defense, rebounding overwhelm Duke 73-67|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 22 March 2008 10:52|
Joe Alexander had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 7-seeded West Virginia reached the NCAA tournament's round of 16 in Huggins' first season at his alma mater by beating second-seeded Duke 73-67 in the West Regional on Saturday.
West Virginia (26-10) limited Duke to 38 percent shooting and held a 47-27 edge on the boards. The Mountaineers also got 17 points from Alex Ruoff, and 13 points and 11 rebounds from reserve guard Joe Mazzulla, and advanced to face No. 3 Xavier or No. 6 Purdue in Phoenix on Thursday.
Every year from 1997 through 2006, Duke was a participant in the round of 16. Every single year. It's a stretch that featured three trips to the Final Four and the 2001 national championship. But now Mike Krzyzewski's team is on a two-year drought, having bowed out in the first round in 2007.
After eking out a one-point victory over No. 15-seed Belmont in the first round, three-time national champion Duke (28-6) looked much better en route to a 34-29 halftime lead against West Virginia.
And the Blue Devils went up 37-29 early in the second half.
Then things changed completely.
After missing all six 3-pointers it took in the first half, West Virginia made its first three in the second, part of an 18-3 run that put the Mountaineers in front.
When Alexander made a layup off the glass while getting fouled and then completed the three-point play with 14:38 left in the game, he put West Virginia ahead 40-38, its first lead since 4-3.
Mazzulla's drive down the lane made it 47-40 with under 12 minutes left, capping that big spurt. Duke called timeout, and Mazzulla screamed and pounded his chest, first with one fist, then the other.
At the other end, the Blue Devils simply could not seem to make a shot. At one point, point guard Greg Paulus was 2-for-7 on 3s - and his teammates were a combined 0-for-11. There were stretches of the second half when Duke's offense pretty much amounted to going down court, calling out a play, then hoisting an off-the-mark jumper.
Heck, even free throws began bedeviling the Blue Devils, who went 12-for-20 at the line in the second half after a 12-for-12 first half.
Everyone got in on the act for the Mountaineers, meanwhile, with Huggins glowering and stomping and yelling all the while.
Cam Thoroughman, a 6-foot-7 freshman who had 16 rebounds all season, grabbed two consecutive boards to keep one possession alive, then eventually made a layup for a 62-51 lead with 3 1/2 minutes left. Duke finally made some desperation shots down the stretch, but the outcome was decided.