Syracuse Edges WVU
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
January 16, 2010
MORGANTOWN. W.Va. – Brandon Triche scored 16 points and handed out five assists to lead fifth-ranked Syracuse to a 72-71 win over No. 9 West Virginia Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.
The Orange (17-1, 4-1) shot 57.8% percent for the game compared to West Virginia’s 39.3%. The Mountaineers had 16 more looks at the basket (61-45) but made two fewer field goals.
“When you get that many more shots than the opposition you ought to win the game,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “We just didn’t make any shots and we haven’t made shots for a while now.”
A key stretch in the game came midway through the second half after the Mountaineers took a six point lead, 38-32, on Dalton Pepper’s 3. Syracuse answered with an Andy Rautins 3, and then held West Virginia to just four baskets and 13 points during a 12-minute stretch to build a 10-point lead, 61-51.
At that point, West Virginia (13-3, 4-2) strategically used fouls and 3-point shooting to extend the game.
With WVU trailing by eight, 67-59, with 42 seconds left following a pair of Triche free throws, Truck Bryant came down and hit a 3 to make it a two-possession game.
Another 3 by Da’Sean Butler pulled the Mountaineers to within three, 68-65, with 27 seconds left. Syracuse had a six-point lead with 12 seconds to go when Scoop Jardine fouled Bryant trying to block his 3-point try.
Bryant made all three free throws with the clock stopped. On the other end, Jardine made one of two from the line with seven seconds remaining to put Syracuse ahead by only four, 72-68.
Bryant hit his fourth 3 with five seconds left to make it 72-71, and Syracuse called timeout when it could not inbound the basketball underneath West Virginia’s basket. Bryant fouled Joseph, who missed both free throws, but West Virginia could not get off a shot to win it. Bryant scored a team-high 18 points for West Virginia. Jones added 11 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 2:52 remaining when he fouled Triche, who had beaten his man to the basket.
In addition to Triche’s 16, the Orange got balanced scoring efforts from Kris Joseph (13), Wes Johnson (13) and Rautins (12).
Syracuse had a 35-29 advantage on the glass and a 36-16 scoring advantage in the paint. The Orange also committed 20 turnovers and was 16 of 26 from the foul line, missing eight down the stretch.
The Mountaineers’ three big guns Da’Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones were a combined 12 of 35 shooting against Syracuse’s defense. Butler, who scored 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting, is mired in one of the toughest shooting stretches of his career, making just 27 of his last 76 field goal tries going back to the Purdue game.
“Da’ had a couple of pretty good looks that didn’t go down for him,” said Huggins. “Dev makes a steal and misses the layup. To me the most disheartening thing was they rebound the ball three times at the foul line which gives them three more possessions. That’s unacceptable because we have inside position - maybe once in a game, as big as they are, but not three times in a row. Give us three more possessions and we probably win the game.”
Pepper gave West Virginia a big boost off the bench, scoring a season-high 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Huggins was pleased with Pepper’s offense but noted that he made a couple of key errors that allowed Syracuse to retake the lead.
“I thought Pep came in and really gave us a lift offensively, but he made some mistakes when we had the lead that he made because he’s a freshman,” Huggins said. “He won’t make them later on. He made them then.”
After trailing 26-25 at halftime, West Virginia made some adjustments offensively, scoring 13 quick points during a five-minute span.
“We had to get paint touches and when we scored we got paint touches. KJ scored, Da’Sean scored and Devin scored and we also got them in foul trouble,” Huggins said. “When you get Syracuse in as much foul trouble as they were in playing a 2-3 zone then you are attacking the rim.”
And late in the game when West Virginia was taking away Syracuse’s set plays, the Orange were able to beat the Mountaineers off the dribble to the rim.
“The same thing happens to us what always happens to us - we take them out of what they want to do and they start playing off the bounce,” said Huggins. “Everything they did in the last seven or eight minutes of the game was off the bounce. They got away from trying to run all of that other stuff and just played us off the bounce.”
A season-high 15,271 watched today’s game.
“The crowd was unbelievable, the students were unbelievable, it was a terrific atmosphere and I’m really sorry that we didn’t come through,” said Huggins.
Syracuse has now won 11 of its last 12 games against West Virginia, including three straight. West Virginia’s only victory over the Orange since 2001 came during Huggins’ first year at WVU in 2008 (81-61 in Morgantown).
West Virginia steps outside of Big East play twice next week, facing 14-2 Marshall in Charleston on Wednesday night and then playing 12-5 Ohio State at the Coliseum next weekend. At halftime of the Ohio State game, All-American guard Hot Rod Hundley will have his jersey number 33 officially retired.
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