PoG: West Virginia - Duquesne

Despite one of the more embarrassing occurrences that can befall a basketball player, Cam Thoroughman was the choice for player of the game honors in West Virginia's 64-61 win over Duquesne.

Thoroughman, making the first start of his career, also set another personal mark by playing 34 minutes, and for most of it he produced the sort of consistent play that head coach Bob Huggins has been searching for. Thoroughman scored seven points, snared four rebounds, and perhaps most importantly, dished out five assists to help WVU's struggling offense produce enough points to register a comeback from an 11-point halftime deficit.

While Thoroughman did suffer the aforementioned embarrassment -- an airball from the free throw line with less than a minute to play -- that shouldn't detract from his overall effort. He played excellent defense throughout, and forced a pair of missed lay-ups in the closing minutes with solid positioning while avoiding contact. He also squared up with Duquesne guard T.J. McConnell, who bedeviled West Virginia's guards all night, and forced him into a bad shot which helped seal the Mountaineer victory. Coming off a switch with guard Joe Mazzulla, Thoroughman manged to stay between McConnell and the basket while the Duquesne guard drove down the right side of the lane. With nowhere left to go, McConnell had to heave up an off-balance fadeaway shot that clanged off the backboard and rim.


  • John Flowers had two huge defensive efforts down the stretch to help preserve West Virginia's lead. With the Mountaineers leading by four late in the game, Flowers had back-to-back rejections in the lane to turn away two point-blank Duquesne scoring efforts, and while those were big, they didn't even top his own personal highlight reel. Just a couple of possessions later, withe the Dukes trailing by two, Flowers again rejected a pair of shots in the lane to keep the Dukes from tying the score.

    Flowers finished with the well-rounded line of ten points, seven rebounds, five blocks, four assists and two steals -- player of the game numbers on many nights.

    "I thought John was outstanding," Huggins said after the game. "He's what we are used to seeing."

  • Jonnie West's eight consecutive points midway through the second half gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the game and perhaps their first belief that they might actually win the game. Up until that point in the game, WVU played with lackluster effort, and was continually thwarted in their attempts to rally.

    Trailing 50-44, West hit a three-pointer, then added another jumper two possessions later to cut the lead to one. On the next trip down the floor, West spotted up and hit another three, this time from the right corner, to put the Mountaineers in front at 53-50. West later added a pair of pressure free throws to help the Mountaineers regain the lead for the last time at 60-59.

    West's ten-point total was just one off his career high of 11, set against Long Beach State last year.

  • Duquesne's aggressive defense, combined with hideously sloppy ballhandling by WVU, combined to keep the Dukes in the game throughout. Head coach Ron Everhart had his team applying pressure and jumping into passing lanes to disrupt West Virginia's offense, and the tactic worked for much of the game. Although WVU did manage to get a couple of backcuts for good shots, turnovers, bad passes and uneven offensive flow were far more evident on the evening. West Virginia threw bad passes, lazy passes, and off-target passes, and the Dukes were quick to take advantage.

    Making the ballhandling woes all the more galling was the fact that many occurred with veterans on the floor.

    "Sixteen turnovers is outrageous, particularly when you are playing three guards," Huggins emphasized.

    That trio included a pair of fifth-year seniors (Mazzulla and West) and a junior (Truck Bryant).

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