West Virginia might have gotten a better game than they bargained for from Big East bottom feeder St. John's, but the Mountaineers still found a way to win in the World's Most Famous Arena.
After holding a double-digit lead in both halfs, WVU went ice cold on offense and gave up open looks to St. John's on the other end as the Johnnies stormed back to take the lead in the final minutes.
Down the stretch and in overtime, though, the Mountaineers rallied behind go-to forward Joe Alexander, who just missed his third consecutive 30-point performance. Alexander finished with 29 points on eight-of-19 from the field, and made 13 of 15 foul shots to lift his team to win No. 22 on the season. Alexander made 10 consecutive free throws to end the game, and grabbed 10 rebounds to record another double-double.
Of course the Mountaineers would have never had the opportunity to put away St. John's in overtime were it not for the late-game heroics of sophomore point guard Joe Mazzulla. Playing crunchtime minutes in place of the injured Darris Nichols (ankle), Mazzulla took an in-bounds pass with 5.5 seconds remaining in regulation and drove to the tin to lay-in the tying bucket with three-tenths of a second remaining to send the game into overtime.
Had Mazzulla not risen to the occasion, the Mountaineers would have headed into Wednesday's Big East Tournament first-round game with plenty of unknown hanging in the air regarding a possible trip to the Big Dance.
Sophomore forward Da'Sean Butler always seems to shine in games near his hometown of Newark, N.J. and Saturday afternoon in the Garden was no exception. Butler scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
Much has been made throughout the season of West Virginia's struggles at the foul line. After Saturday's performance, though, the Mountianeers deserve a world of credit for their efforts from the charity stripe, which went a long way in ensuring the overtime victory. The men in blue canned 30 of 42 attempts from the line, fouling out four Red Storm players in the process.