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WVU believing it can reach even greater heights

March 28, 2010
By JIM ELLIOTT

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - When you're the head coach of a program that hasn't made a Final Four since 1959, how do you go into a season thinking you might have a team that can do it?

Well, you need the confidence of a man like Bob Huggins.

''I thought we had a chance, in all honesty,'' Huggins said.

But even he didn't know how good his team was. Maybe he still doesn't.

''I'd go into the locker room and say, 'you know, I'm not very happy with this, or this, but the reality is we'd just won our 26th game or our 27th or 25th or whatever it was. We're going to keep trying to win a few more here.''

Seriously, why stop now?

''I said our motto - an opportunity for kids to fulfill their dreams,'' WVU point guard and game Most Valuable Player Joe Mazzulla said. ''And we've done one of them, and we have two more games to fulfill our highest dream.

''We didn't come here to make it to the Final Four and lay down. We just have to enjoy it the rest of the night and have the mindset that we have 80 minutes left to do something really special. We can enjoy it. But we don't want to lose track of what our main goal is.''

The Better Team

It's hard to say who would win a Best-of-5 series between West Virginia and Kentucky. The Wildcats are an extremely talented group.

But they only had to play one.

''They did a good job of playing aggressive and playing really intense,'' Kentucky guard Darius Miller said. ''They came ready to play. They were ready to play more than we were. They were the better team.''

His teammate, Ramon Harris, disagreed.

''I think we're the best team in the country, hands down,'' he said. ''But we just didn't play like it (Saturday).''

Breaking a tie, Kentucky coach John Calipari offered no excuses and took his hat off to the Mountaineers.

''They did what they had to do,'' he said. ''The 1-3-1 (zone defense) bothered us. We tried different things and it bothered us more than I thought it would. They ran their offense and got some layups at critical times. And we're a team that doesn't give up many layups. We gave up a bunch.

He identified that his team shot the ball really poorly, but had found ways to win games in other ways in the past ''because maybe the teams weren't as good as West Virginia. But that team was too good for us to shoot like we did from the free-throw line and still win the game.''

The Cats were 16 of 29 from the stripe.

How'd They Do It?

It was the first time in the last seven games the Mountaineers had given up more than 59 points. And they were outrebounded 51-36.

West Virginia didn't have a two-point basket in the first half and made only 20 of 52 field goals for the game (38.5 percent).

Yet, the Mountaineers won, improving to 4-0 in their black uniforms.

''Forty-nine states picked us to lose,'' West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler said. ''We went out there and played our game. We grinded it out. We won. I knew we were going to win. Everybody up here knew we were going to win. It was a matter of how we were going to do it. And they outrebounded us, and we did everything possible to win the game, still find a way.''

Now, they're headed to Indy.

''For two more,'' Butler said. ''We can't just be happy being there. It doesn't mean anything unless you win the whole thing. Everything is in vain unless you win the whole thing. We're just trying to do that.''

 
 

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