POG: WVU-UConn

NEW YORK -- Once again, Connecticut had no answer for West Virginia's budding star. This time, the Mountaineers came out on top.

West Virginia's first game with UConn back on March 1 left the Mountaineers with two impressions: first, had they shown up for the first 20 plus minutes of the game, they likely could have done much better than the 78-71 result the game ended in. And second? Joe Alexander had his way against the Huskies, pouring in a then-career-best 32 points in the defeat.

From that, the Mountaineers took a lesson on not being intimidated by the name on the front of the opposing jersey, and put the newfound wisdom to good work here on Thursday afternoon, holding off the fourth-seeded Huskies thanks to yet another dominating performance by Alexander.

The junior forward tallied a new career high with 34 points against the talented UConn frontcourt of Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien and Stanley Robinson. Alexander carried the Mountaineers through the first half with 15 points, and continued to have his way in the final 20 minutes, putting an exclamation point on the contest with a ferocious facial throwdown on Robinson that sent the WVU bench and gold-clad cheering section into a frenzied celebration.

Alexander totaled his numbers on 12-22 shooting from the floor and an impressive (not to mention important) 10-12 from the free throw line. Alexander played a team-best 39 minutes, and was remarkably not whistled for a single one of the combined 50 personal fouls in the contest. Alexander was the only player on either team who played but did not commit a foul.


NET BURNERS

  • Senior point guard Darris Nichols will now become the first player in WVU history to reach the Big East semifinals twice. As a freshman, Nichols was a key reserve on the 2004-05 Mountaineers which made a run to the Big East Championship before ultimately falling to Syracuse. Against Connecticut, the dependable floor general finished with 13 points, four rebounds and two assists to help complement the big game by Alexander.

  • Alex Ruoff has always put the team first, or as some people say, played for what's on the front of the jersey instead of what's on the back. For much of the second half against Connecticut, Ruoff had no other choice. Thursday's game between the Mountaineers and UConn was among the most physical of the 2008 Big East Championship, and early in the second half, Ruoff's jersey became a casualty, suffering a rip of approximately six inches across the back. The torn garment caught the eye of WVU equipment manager Bubba Schmidt , who quickly hustled a spare, nameless jersey baring the number 20.

    Ruoff wore the new jersey for the rest of Thursday's quarterfinal, but Schmidt vowed afterward in the Mountaineer locker room that No. 22 will be ready for action in time for Friday's 7:00 PM semifinal with Georgetown.

  • Late in the game, Connecticut went to several different full-court defensive looks, all of which attempted to keep the ball away from Nichols. With Nichols being hounded by Huskies all over the court, sophomore forward Da'Sean Butler and sophomore point guard Joe Mazzulla assisted in bringing the ball upcourt against the pesky UConn pressure.

    Butler also finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing his second double-double in as many days.


  • BlueGoldNews Top Stories