On senior night at the WVU Coliseum, it was a member of the junior class with a second consecutive monster outing to lead the Mountaineers to a 76-62 win over the hated Pitt Panthers.
Forward Joe Alexander followed up Saturday's career day at UConn with another 32-point outing. After a bizarre first shot attempt which sailed over the backboard and pinballed through the area connecting the basket to the support, Alexander calmed down and put the Mountaineers on his back to close out the home campaign in style.
Matched up against fellow former Hargrave Tiger Sam Young and freshman phenom DeJuan Blair, Alexander outclassed the Panther front line in front of a near-sellout at the Coliseum and nationwide television audience on ESPN's Big Monday.
Joe's 32 points came on 10-16 shooting from the field, and 12-16 from the foul line. He also collected six rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
Senior point guard Darris Nichols closed out his Coliseum career in style, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and two assists. And true to form, Nichols did not commit a turnover in 28 minutes of play. Despite the coaching transition prior to his senior season, Nichols has been every bit as productive in his final run with the Mountaineers as he was for the first three years.
Jamie Smalligan admittedly didn't give himself enough of a chance to fit in with new head coach Bob Huggins' system prior to the season, but over the past few weeks the senior center has done whatever it takes to get the win, and ensure himself of playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his five year, two school career. Smalligan had a nifty play in Monday night's game, pump faking a three-point attempt to draw a Panther defender in the air, driving into the lane, and hitting a slashing Da'Sean for a wide-open layup under the hoop. Though the circumstances prior to his senior season did not seem condusive to Smalligan's style of play, the former Butler Bulldog has made the most of his final collegiate season.
Walk-on guard Ted Talkington is going pro after this his third season of eligibility. Well, sort of. The New Martinsville native and nephew of WVU head football coach Bill Stewart will skip his final year of college ball to pursue his dream of being a doctor. Talkington has had some big moments as a Mountaineer, and has been a fan favorite since day one in Morgantown.