PoG: West Virginia - Missouri

West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler spun, twisted and shot his way to a 28-point performance in West Virginia's 68-59 win over Missouri to earn our player of the game honors.

Da'Sean Butler was a target for Missouri's trapping, scrambling defense, but the Tigers' helter-skelter style of play was no match for Butler's moves. The senior scored 28 points in WVU's win, and made his mark from the rim to the three-point line.

Butler hit four three-pointers, added two tough inside shots, and converted 12 of his 12 free throw attempts in 38 minutes of action. He also grabbed with rebounds, with the biggest of those being his sole offensive board with 1:18 to go.

Following a Cam Thoroughman miss, Butler spun into the lane, snared the offensive board and put the ball back in to give WVU a 64-57 lead with 1:17 to go. The score was a huge one in a game where field goals were hard to come by, and gave West Virginia just enough of an offensive boost to put the game away.

"We kind of crossed, and no one really boxed me out," said Butler of the play, which was a designed call by the Mountaineer coaches. "SO I just went up there and grabbed it and laid it in, but it was just a matter of getting to the basketball. I got there first and made a play."

Butler added two assists, two blocks and a steal in 38 minutes of action.

NET BURNERS

  • West Virginia's handling of the much-vaunted Missouri press was a story of efficiency. WVU was expected, at least by members of the Missouri and national media, to wilt under the relentless pressure of the Tigers, but the Mountaineers handled the full court looks well. The Tigers did get a couple of traps and steals out of their press, but they did not cause the havoc upon which they build their offensive game, and as a result WVU was able to control the pace.

    "It's just like any other press that you face. The intended purpose is to get you to play faster," forward Kevin Jones said. "I think we did a good job of playing at our own pace. I don't think it wore us down at all."

    West Virginia passed the ball crisply, moving it away from double teams and finding the open man consistently by attacking upcourt. It was as good a performance against pressure as West Virginia has had overall this year.

  • WVU's performance at the free throw line was a huge factor in the contest. The Mountaineers were 25-33 from the stripe, and used those points to help span some long scoring droughts from the field. West Virginia endured a stretch of 12 minutes and 51 seconds, spanning both halves, in whichit did not score a field goal, but still managed to increase its lead by one during that time, thanks to its performance from the line. In addition to Butler's showing, Devin Ebanks was 8-10 and Jones 4-6.

  • Missouri also put pressure on West Virginia in the halfcourt, playing aggressive man-to-man defense, and the Mountaineers responded by driving the ball strongly to the basket. That helped account for WVU's 33 free throw attempts, but it also resulted in some big baskets for the #2 seed. Joe Mazzulla's drive, scoop and score with 1:49 to play gave WVU a seven-point lead and helped create some breathing room after the Tigers had cut the lead to three.

    Both Mazzulla and Truck Bryant were very good at getting the ball into the lane and creating scoring chances. Bryant had a driving lay-up of his own and also scored in transition on what was possibly West Virginia's best fast break of the season. Bryant had just one turnover in 16 minutes of action and did not commit the mental errors that have plagued him through parts of the season. He made good decisions, and along with Mazzulla, was a kep part in creating offense for WVU.


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