West Virginia Vs. South Florida: Mountaineers Boost Tournament Chances With 50-44 Win

WVU improved its chances of heading to the NCAA Tournament with a win over South Florida Saturday.

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West Virginia Vs. South Florida: Bryant's Perfect Day At The Free Throw Line Leads 'Eers To Victory, 50-44

The Mountaineers went into South Florida needing a win, and got one, 50-44.

More surprisingly, they won the game at the free throw line, something WVU has struggled with all season. Truck Bryant had a perfect 12-12 day at the line including a series of game icing free throws down the stretch. Truck finished with 16 points. Bryant turned it on in the second half, giving the Mountaineers the lead on a circus shot with just under seven minutes left in the game. From that point on, the Mountaineers would never trail, despite letting the Bulls tie the game twice, including on a big three-pointer from Toarlyn Fitzpatrick with three minutes remaining.

WVU dug itself out of that hole, and any other problem it faced, by using tenacious defense to shut down the Bulls in the second half. The Mountaineers would force ten second half turnovers, causing the South Florida offense to stall out time and time again. Freshmen guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne paced the 'Eers by stealing the ball in the front court on repeated possessions to keep WVU in front for good. Browne would take a charge in the lane with less than a minute left to seal the game for the Mountaineers and forcing South Florida into repeatedly fouling.

While quiet in the second half, Kevin Jones put in his usual impressive days work, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Mountaineers finish the regular season 19-12 overall and 9-9 in the Big East Conference. The will be either the No. 8 or No. 9 seed in the Big East tournament, depending on the outcome of this evening's Seton Hall-DePaul game.

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West Virginia Vs. South Florida: 'Eers Lead Bulls 24-19 After 1st Half

As anticipated, today’s game in Tampa is a defensive slug fest and the Mountaineers lead the Bulls by a 24-19 margin. Made baskets have been hard to come by for both teams, who are each playing a physical game and generally succeeding in keeping the other out of the score book.

The always-reliable Kevin Jones leads the Mountaineers with 12 points, six coming on a pair of deep threes. Jones and his Mountaineer teammates have been double teamed all afternoon by South Florida’s aggressive help defense. Deniz Kilicli has struggled mightily against the the Bulls’ pressure, repeatedly getting knocked off the blocks and forcing bad shots. If the Bulls set out this afternoon to stymie the Mountaineer bigs, they have succeeded so far.

The Bulls are led by freshman point guard Anthony Collins, younger brother of former WVU guard JD Collins, who has a team-high six points in the first half.

In a game both teams desperately need to shore up their NCAA tournament resumes, the first team to 50 points should go home happy.

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