POG: West Virginia - Notre Dame

On a night when Alex Ruoff and Da'Sean Butler returned to their usual scoring production, it was the rebounding of Devin Ebanks that earned our player of the game honors.

West Virginia's stellar freshman set a WVU Big East tournament record with 18 rebounds as the Mountaineers took down Notre Dame for the second time this year. Ebanks broke Gordon Malone's record of 14, set against Seton Hall on Mar. 6, 1996. Ebanks' performance helped WVU to a 52-rebound night, which is another Big East tournament best for the Gold and Blue. That total bested the previous high of 48 set against Rutgers in 1998.

Ebanks did not have a huge stat line in other areas, as he scored just seven point on 3-11 shooting. However, he did dish out five assists and help run the offense at key junctures in the second half. He was also an outlet against Notre Dame's press, which it used to deny inbounds passes in the second half. Ebanks was a steadying force in that phase, and other than one rash decision in transtion was again a huge key for another Mountaineer tournament win.


  • Timely performances by Ruoff and Butler helped fill up the score sheet for the Mountaineers, and offset an uncharacteristic poor shooting night by freshman Kevin Jones. Ruoff hit an early three to become WVU's all-time three-point king, and made three more to go along with a 9-11 performance from the line for 25 total points. Butler shook off some early woes of his own to make three of his five triples, which, coupled with a 5-5 showing at the line, recorded 20 points of his own.

    That countered the lower than usual point production of Ebanks and Jones (nine total), but it wasn't the whole story. Truck Bryant again hit his first three-point attempt of the night and ended up with 17, which filled in the critical third scorer role that WVU critically needs. In all, the trio made 11 of their 19 three-point attempts to help keep the Notre Dame defense spread out.

  • West Virginia has been very successful over its last few trips to Madison Square Garden, with former head coach John Beilein and current mentor Bob Huggins getting much of the credit. WVU is 11-5 over its last 16 games in the World's Most Famous Arena, and is 7-3 in its last ten Big East tournament contests.

    For Huggins, such success is par for the course. He is 3-1 in the Big East tournament, part of a 34-11 overall record in post season conference tilts. The win over the Irish puts him in the Top 25 in career wins in NCAA Division I with 638.

  • West Virginia's jump out to an early lead at 26-6 was obviously one of the big keys to the game, but perhaps even more imporatant was that the Mountaineers didn't let the Irish get within realistic striking distance. While Notre Dame was twice able to get within eight points in the second half, WVU had a response each time the Irish threatened to really put the pressure on. WVU was able to make free throws (17-23 on the evening) and get just enough offense to keep them at bay.

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