Mountaineers Fall

  • January 31, 2009 03:21 PM
  • |
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
January 31, 2009

#7 Louisville 69, West Virginia 63
freedom hall
louisville, ky
West Virginia 25 38 63
Louisville 45 24 69
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 21-59 24-43
FG Percentage 35.6% 55.8%
3P Made-Att 3-14 6-15
3P Percentage 21.4% 40.0%
FT Made-Att 18-22 15-24
FT Percentage 81.8% 62.5%
Rebounds 33 32
Turnovers 17 26
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Scorer
 Da'Sean Butler
23 Points
Alex Ruoff
16 Points

Jerry Smith scored 20 points and Terrence Jennings came off the bench to score 13 to lead No. 7 Louisville to a 69-63 victory over West Virginia Saturday afternoon at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.

It was the ninth straight win for Louisville and sets up a showdown with Connecticut for first place in the Big East standings Monday night.

The Cardinals (17-3, 8-0) remained undefeated in Big East play by using full-court pressure to rattle West Virginia’s young players and build a 45-25 halftime lead. West Virginia (15-6, 4-4) committed 14 of its 17 turnovers in the first half that led to several Louisville breakouts.

“When people are throwing it backwards against the press, people are just licking their chops,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “When people are attacking you and throwing it forward then all of the sudden that pressure is not what it was. We just didn’t do a very good job in the first half.”

In the second half West Virginia made a game of it and eventually whittled Louisville’s lead to four, 63-59, with 2:16 remaining on a Kevin Jones free throw. After a West Virginia time out and trailing by six, the Mountaineers got a wide open 3-point try that John Flowers missed that could have but Louisville’s lead to three. Flowers had made 3s to help win games against Mississippi and USF.

“They took away Alex and Da after that timeout and John has made some big 3s and he was wide open,” Huggins said. “If he makes that 3 then it’s a three-point game with a minute and half to go and it’s anybody’s game.”

A fast break dunk by Jennings with 23 seconds left made it a three-possession game.

West Virginia outscored the Cardinals 38-24 in the second half behind the improved play of Da’Sean Butler, who scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. Butler was just 1 of 3 shooting with four turnovers in the first half against Louisville’s pressure.

Alex Ruoff scored 16 points on 5 of 9 shooting before fouling out with 14 seconds remaining. Ebanks had 14 points to go with six rebounds.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Huggins said. “Da’Sean and Alex have to score for us and I asked (Ebanks) during a timeout if he could handle the point. He said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I told him what I wanted him to do and he said, ‘Coach I can do that.’ The 3 that Da hit that could it under double figures was Devin setting that up.”

Louisville shot 55.8 percent overall with Smith and Jennings making a combined 12 of 13. The Cardinals committed 26 turnovers.

West Virginia shot 35.6 percent and finished the game with 17 turnovers. The Mountaineers had a 33-32 edge on the glass.

“(Louisville is) good. They have what you want to have,” Huggins said. “They can make mistakes and make up for them because they block shots. They’re athletic and quick to the ball. They blocked six shots in the first half and as much as you say pump fake, pump fake, pump fake we didn’t do it. They’re coming in waves.”

WVU remains on the road to face No. 15 Syracuse Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome. The Orange have a week to prepare for the Mountaineers after falling at Providence 100-94 on Jan. 28. Syracuse is looking to snap a three-game losing streak.

“We’ve got to pick up from here and go. I’m not big on moral victories,” Huggins said. “We came into win and we didn’t win.”

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