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Villanova heads to the Sweet 16
24 March 2018, 02:13 | Rose Hansen
Carter and Miles want more than the Sweet 16
"The one thing that Baltimore don't have that West Virginia has is mountains", he said Thursday, meaning the Alleghenies of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Updates photos, links. With AP Photos. The Wildcats followed with a 6-0 run, which West Virginia answered with eight consecutive points for a 33-30 lead with 5:15 remaining. That Villanova managed to lead by two at halftime appeared nearly anomalous, and was largely thanks to the cool playmaking of senior point guard Jalen Brunson, who scored 16 points in the opening period.
The Wildcats responded with the next five points to tie the game.
With 3-point shooting that was timely and lethal, Villanova made another Sweet 16 turn sour for West Virginia.
But a byproduct of such physical play is foul trouble and West Virginia had to go long stretches without its sharpshooting guard Daxter Miles and short bursts without his backcourt-mate Jevon Carter (Brunson's former AAU teammate). He was named to the Big 12 Conference All-Tournament team two weeks ago after scoring 66 points over three days, leading the Mountaineers to the league final.
Villanova, meanwhile, missed seven straight field goals and fell behind 52-47 before an Omari Spellman 3-pointer from the corner ended the dry spell. The outside barrage helped the Wildcats overcome 16 turnovers and played into their Sweet 16 plan for their opponents nicknamed "Press Virginia": Attack the stifling defense head-on.
"What a game, man".
They waited more than 24 hours for their opponent. The No. 5 seeded Mountaineers are known as "Press Virginia" for their relentlessness and they way they cause havoc on everything the opposition tries to do. The Wildcats struggled at times, especially in the first half, but climbed out of a six-point hole in the second half with an 11-0 run.
The Mountaineers (26-11) stayed close throughout the night, ramping up the pressure and making Villanova play faster than it wanted to early. "Yeah, it does. When the whistle keeps blowing, it really takes away your aggression, you know".
West Virginia adjusted for a while, taking advantage of a more than three-minute Villanova scoring drought to take a 60-54 edge with just over 11 minutes left.
The team that's been led by Player of the Year candidate Jalen Brunson got off to rocky start against WVU's press despite the experience of the team's guards.
"If you're at this point, you're just as good as the team in front of you", Villanova guard Phil Booth said. It doesn't matter who we're playing against.
BOSTON This wasn't a basketball game.
Perhaps today, West Virginia can come up with the right formula to move past the round of 16 for the first time since reaching the Final Four in 2010. "It actually did make me a mature man growing up, because I had to be a role model [to my brothers and sisters]". "With their eyes, they told me, 'Don't worry, we've got this'". Villanova will run. Want to knock heads the way the Mountaineers did for 40 minutes Friday night at TD Garden, Villanova can do that, too.
Still, with as good as the Mountaineers are playing, it would be a mistake to write them off completely.
The Wildcats, who missed the Sweet 16 past year, are back after bumping off Radford in the first round 87-61 and Alabama in the second round 81-58.
"That's why they're our captains", Wright said. "We just didn't make them".
Kansas made it through the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row as a No1 seed after surviving a late scare and beating fifth-seeded Clemson 80-76 in a Midwest region semi-final.
The win by Duke (29-7) set up a 1 vs. 2 showdown against Kansas, which also escaped with a four-point win earlier against Clemson. "The team can kill zones with their 3-point shooting, and it's not going to be vulnerable to pressure". "He's been similar [to] back then in those days", Brunson said of Carter. That, by the way, was the last time the Mountaineers knocked off a No. 1 seed in the tournament, upsetting Kentucky in the East regional finals in Syracuse, New York.
"The seeding doesn't matter in this tournament", DiVincenzo said. In their first serious test of March Madness so far, Villanova responded like the veteran team it is.
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