West Virginia fell to Louisville on Saturday night by a narrow three-point margin, but wouldn't have even been close were it not for the efforts of our Player of the Game.
Early and often, the Mountaineers were able to weather the Louisville storm behind the stellar play of freshman forward Kevin Jones. Playing on the grandest of stages with ESPN's College GameDay crew in town, Jones scored a career-high 19 points to lead West Virginia.
Earlier this week, Jones recorded his previous career-high of 13 points in the win over DePaul on Wednesday night. The Mount Vernon, N.Y. native blew that total out of the water against the Cards. Jones also added eight rebounds and two assists to his total as the Mountaineers came up short.
In their previous win over WVU this season, the Cardinals used their full-court pressure to speed West Virginia up and cause a ton of early turnovers. On Saturday night, U of L's press was again effective, but this time in a different way. The Cards were pesky with their pressure, keeping the Mountaineers from getting into their motion offense for much of the first half.
Senior guard Alex Ruoff was moved to tears by his Senior Night standing ovation during pregame. Once the game began, though Ruoff's emotions moved towards frustration. In his final game at the Coliseum, the Spring Hill, Fla. native was 0-5 from the floor, and never really got into the groove as he was limited by foul trouble virtually from the start.
Louisville's win combined with UConn's loss to Pitt, gives the Cardinals the Big East's outright championship for the regular season. West Virginia was locked into seventh place in the conference standing win or lose Saturday night, as Syracuse's win at Marquette earlier in the day gave the Orange a stranglehold on sixth place.