Wow. That was AWESOME. It was an incredibly improbable way to win a game that WVU had actually already given away three minutes before. In the end, this group of guys, hardened by their head coach, got a gritty senior day win that will be talked about for years to come. There's a lot to talk about right now though, so let's get to it:
- The endgame. It was completely bizarre, and I would have loved to hear Pitino's post game remarks. I'm sure they weren't chipper. With thirty seconds left, down by three, Kevin Jones misses the potentially tieing shot from the top of the key. I liked the call, and I even liked Jones taking the shot, he had been having a monster game which we'll talk about in length later. It doesn't go. Quick foul, and Chris Smith ices his free throws. The deficit is pushed back to five, and all is pretty much lost. I figured that was it. Then Casey Mitchell, who had been playing horribly all day, comes riding in to the rescue. Hits one big three, and then after Peyton Siva choked on the first of two free throws, Mitchell ties it. Six points in nine seconds of play. The forgotten senior made his mark on senior day. The Cards had their shot to tie it but Truck gets fouled. It was a foul, but Preston Knowles should've been smart enough to play off that far from the bucket. Truck, for all his faults, has ice water in his veins at the line, and he wins the game. The final contribution from a guy who had been struggling all day (all year, really), emblematic of the whole game. Everybody contributed.
- KJ's Big Day. Kevin Jones put together the kind of game we'd wanted from him all year and it couldn't have come at a better time. Jones had a double double in the first half, and finished with an astonishing 25 points and 16 boards. The boards were the most important, and the Mountaineers punished the Cardinals on the glass. Jones constantly came down with the ball and immediately turned it into points all day long and was the big difference maker for the blue and gold today. Kevin could turn into a dominant forward in the Big East after all, and that will reap benefits in postseason play. The trick to tournament winning is controlling the basketball game, and you can't do that without a serious post presence. If Jones can have half the day he had today in each tournament game, the 'Eers will be playing for awhile.
- The Big Five Seniors. Joe Mazzulla, Cam Thoroughman, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Jonnie West got a memorable senior day win today and they all had games that were emblematic of their careers. Joe and Cam played the entire game in foul trouble and finished it on the bench, but that's what we've come to expect from those two. Flowers had another double double and spent most of the game in mid-air swatting 6 shots. Casey Mitchell, he of the game tying shot, had another confusing game. Before his crucial threes he was 1 for 6 from the floor and had his share of confounding mistakes. When the Mountaineers need points though, he provided. Oh yeah, Jonnie West got in and hit a couple of free throws in front of dad.
- It's March! The Mountaineers have won eleven straight games in the month of March. That's astounding, and it bodes well for this postseason. The Mountaineers get a first round bye in the Garden, and will be set up to play a beatable team on Wednesday night. After that, anything can happen. Same goes for the Big Dance. With a decent matchup, WVU could play their way into the second weekend. The way the Mountaineers have been playing defense and rebounding lately, they can beat anybody. This afternoon they beat a top twenty team, while scoring more than usual, while still shooting 33%. To do that, you've got to be able to muck up a basketball game and play a little ugly. Whenever West Virginia can do that, they've got a shot against anybody.
Check back at SBNation Pittsburgh for more on Pitt and West Virginia during the Big East tournament.