POG: West Virginia - Notre Dame

West Virginia won for the third time in four games Wednesday night, toppling Notre Dame by a final of 79-68.

Early in the season, freshman point guard Truck Bryant strung together a handful of impressive performances. Lately, the play of freshman forward Devin Ebanks has stood out.

On Thursday night, the third member of WVU's freshman class continued the trend with his biggest game to date.

Kevin Jones came off the bench to produce his first career double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in WVU's first win over Notre Dame since 2006. The mild-mannered power forward also did a decent job defensively when matched up with ND beast Luke Harangody, who leads the Big East in both scoring and rebounding.

Jones, who has been solid if unspectacular for much of the season, was praised by his teammates and coaches alike after the big effort, which arguably was the difference between a win and a loss


NET BURNERS

  • West Virginia turned back the clock to the John Beilein era mid-way through the first half and dusted off a 1-3-1 zone defense. Of course with the way Notre Dame was slicing up WVU's normally-tough man-to-man, head coach Bob Huggins had to do something.

    The change, though not permanent, was certainly effective as at the very least it gave the Fighting Irish a different look. The Mountaineers relied almost exclusively on the defense under Beilein's direction from 2002-2007.

  • Had it not been for the brilliance of Jones, senior guard Alex Ruoff would have been a lock for BlueGoldNews.com Player of the Game honors. Ruoff scored 24 points on nine-of-16 shooting to lead the Mountaineers.

    He also dished out four assists in 40 minutes of play, and did an outstanding job defensively in the second half on Notre Dame sharpshooter Kyle McAlarney, who was just one-of-five in the second half after scoring nine points in the first half.

  • The win is especially big in the conference standings for West Virginia. A loss would have tied the Mountaineers with the Fighting Irish, but given the tiebreaker in that scenario to Notre Dame. Now, WVU is 7-6 in Big East play with a favorable five-game schedule to close the season.

    Of the five games remaining, only one (Louisville on March 7 in Morgantown) comes against a team ahead of the Mountaineers in the Big East standings. West Virginia has not lost a single game this season against teams behind it in the league standings.


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