PoG: West Virginia - UConn

Forward Devin Ebanks had 12 second half points to help WVU mount a rally against UConn, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Mountaineers fell to the Huskies.

Ebanks scored six early points in the second half and played solid defense to help West Virginia rally from a nine-point halftime deficit. The Mountaineer cut UConn's lead to one at 53-52 following Ebanks' short shot in the lane, but the Mountaineers could never get any closer.

Ebanks finished with 17 points on 7-9 shooting from the field, and although he made just three of five free throws, was actually WVU's second best shooter from the line of anyone that had more than two attempts. He also had one assist and one turnover.

Ebanks was solid from the top of the 1-3-1 defense to the defensive boards, where he was the only Mountaineer to offer much resistance to UConn's assault on the offensive glass. He finished with nine rebounds, including four on the offensive end. Ebanks was similarly versatile on the offensive end, at times handling point guard duties in addition to his normal forward duties.


  • The huge disparity in free throws was a key to the contest. Head coach Bob Huggins was clearly upset with the disparity, noting, "I can't believe the difference in the free throws." Huggins earned two ridiculous technicals in the final seconds, which were called by a clearly insecure Mike Stuart, and was incensed at the apparent difference in the standard of what constituted a foul on either end of the court. However, to be fair, the boneheaded, brain-dead fouls committed by WVU also helped lead to a 19-free throw advantage for the Huskies.

    Time and again, West Virginia bailed out UConn jumpshooters by fouling them on tough attempts. WVU committed fouls 30 and 40 feet from the basket, and put the Huskies into the bonus early in both halves. The Mountaineers also apparently gave up on trying to keep dribblers in front of them, and instead restored to trying to draw charges after again yielding numerous drives into the lane.

    Compounding the poor defensive effort was another horrendous night at their own free throw line. UConn made 30 of its 42 chances, while the Mountaineers made just 12 of 23. Maybe Bob Huggins isn't worried about WVU's free throw shooting, but someone certainly should be. Despite long stretches of poor play, WVU could have won the game had it just matched UConn's 71% mark from the line. Instead, it kicked away a chance at another league win.

  • UConn's dominance on the offensive boards negated West Virginia's one true advantage. The Huskies got a ton of second and third chances, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds and converting many of them for key baskets. UConn was especially good in grabbing the few free throw attempts it did miss, and converted three such opportunities for extra chances. But no board was bigger than Stanley Robinson's dunk off a miss by Jerome Dyson with 42 seconds to go. That put the Huskies up by six and in control of the game.

    UConn was able to crash the offensive boards with impunity, as it didn't have to worry about West Virginia's transition game, which sputters to produce good shots.

    The Huskies piled up a ten-rebound advantage in the first half and finished the game with a 37-33 margin on the glass.

  • Another long scoring drought, this time in the first half, again put WVU in a hole. The Mountaineers were able to weather a nine-plus minute stretch without a field goal against Seton Hall, but UConn isn't Seton Hall. WVU went six minutes without a field goal, and during that time the Huskies scored 13 unanswered points to turn a two-point advantage into a fifteen point bulge. From that point on, West Virginia managed to play fairly evenly with UConn, but the damage done during that first half stretch was too much to overcome -- just as it will be against any quality team.

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