Midwest Region: West Virginia beats Maryland
Columbus, Ohio — It's OK if others think it looks like wrestling on hardwood. Coach Bob Huggins believes West Virginia's style of play is a work of art.
"Everywhere we go people say, 'Well, it's not pretty,'" Huggins said after his Mountaineers manhandled Maryland 69-59 in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night. "I think it's beautiful."
Devin Williams had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and the Mountaineers scored 16 second-chance points and forced 23 turnovers in a masterpiece of defense and determination.
The reward for their strength and sweat is a trip to Cleveland to take on undefeated Kentucky in the Sweet 16. They don't sound as if they'll be intimidated by the mighty Wildcats.
"Since we started we played the underdog role," senior point guard Juwan Staten said. "They didn't think we'd get past Buffalo. We got past Buffalo. They didn't think we'd get past Maryland. We got past Maryland. I'm pretty sure nobody in the world thinks we're going to get past Kentucky besides the 1.2 million people in West Virginia. But we're going to keep doing what we do. And keep playing."
The fifth-seeded Mountaineers (25-9) get their shot at Kentucky on Thursday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
"I wish I could sit here and tell you we're definitely going to win. I can't do that," Huggins said. "But I can tell you we're not going to be scared."
Gary Browne added 14 points and Daxter Miles Jr. and Jonathan Holton each had 12 as West Virginia advanced to the second weekend of the tournament for the first time since 2010, when it went all the way to the Final Four.
The teams were locked in a close battle until the Mountaineers used gritty pressure defense and physical play to pull away.
Williams scored off an offensive board to make it 49-46. The next time down the floor, after a Maryland miss, Tarik Phillip, who hit the clinching 3 late in the shot clock with 29 seconds left against Buffalo, had his shot blocked. But he got it back and powered it in with 10:08 left.
Moments later, Staten threw a 60-foot pass to Miles behind the defense for a layup. On the play, Maryland's terrific freshman Melo Trimble ended up getting kicked in the head by a teammate and had to be helped to the bench. He sat there for the rest of the game, his head in his hands.
Maryland cut the deficit to five, but Jevon Carter responded with a 3 for WVU with 4:18 left.
The Mountaineers were content the rest of the way to play keepaway, with Browne and Staten cycling the ball around the perimeter until there was a foul or one of their bruising bigs could muscle in another basket.
Trimble, the Terps' leading scorer at 16.3 points a game, finished with 15, and Jake Layman had 10. Maryland was trying to advance to the round of 16 for the first time since 2003 — a year after the Terps won the national championship under coach Gary Williams.
Wichita State 78, Kansas 65: No wonder Kansas never wants anything to do with Wichita State.
At Omaha, Nebraska, Behind another steady performance from Fred VanVleet and the hot shooting of Evan Wessel, the No. 7 seed Shockers earned a trip to the Sweet 16 at the expense of the school that has caused them so much chagrin. Tekele Cotton led the way with 19 points for the Shockers (30-4). VanVleet finished with 17 and Wessel hit four 3-pointers to score 12, sending the Missouri Valley champions to Cleveland for the Midwest Regional semifinal against third-seeded Notre Dame.
Devonte' Graham and Perry Ellis had 17 points each, and Frank Mason added 16 for the Jayhawks (27-9), who blew an early eight-point lead and never really threatened in the second half.