West Virginia sputters early but gets past Morgan State, 77-50
March 19, 2010 5:00 PM
West Virginia's Devin Ebanks dunks over Morgan State's Joe Davis during the first half of their NCAA Tournament first-round game in Buffalo, N.Y.
West Virginia's Casey Mitchell and Morgan State's Joe Davis battle for a rebound during the first half of their NCAA Tournament first-round game in Buffalo, N.Y.
By Colin Dunlap Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- West Virginia fought off an early scare, got its act straightened out and rolled past Morgan State, 77-50 this afternoon at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo in a first-round NCAA tournament game.
The Mountaineers -- the No. 2-seed in the East region -- advanced their record to 28-6 and, on Sunday, will play Missouri.
Morgan State, looking to become the fifth No. 15-seed in tournament history to earn an opening round win, had its season end with a 27-10 record as West Virginia was led in scoring by Kevin Jones, who had 17, and Devin Ebanks' 16.
West Virginia was deplorable at the beginning, as the squad missed its first 11 shots and fell behind, 10-0 in the early going, and didn't score a field goal in the opening 7 minutes, 45 seconds.
But the Mountaineers remaining steady against Morgan State's zone, never deviating from their intended offensive course and slowly climbed back into it.
They narrowed the disadvantage and narrowed the disadvantage until West Virginia took its first lead, 22-21 with 5:42 remaining in the half on a Joe Mazzulla free throw.
Coach Bob Huggins' team never trailed again.
From there, the Mountaineers cruised into halftime, distancing themselves from the MEAC champions and securing a 38-27 halftime lead.
In the second half, it was much of the same, as West Virginia strolled through the remaining 20 minutes keeping the Bears at a more than safe distance, holding a lead of more than 20 points for much of the time.