- Today’s game was the first-ever meeting between the two schools in the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia has earned 24 all-time NCAA tournament berths, while Clemson’s appearance was its 11th.
- Today’s game was West Virginia’s 48th in the NCAA Tournament and Clemson’s 20th. The Mountaineers are now 25-23, while Clemson falls to 9-11.
- Clemson was making their second appearance in Tampa, Fla. The No. 5 seed Tigers lost to No. 12 seed Villanova, 75-69, in the first round in 2008.
- The Mountaineers improve to 22-11 this season with the win, while Clemson’s season ends with a 22-12 mark.
- West Virginia trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, but closed the half on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 40. Its first lead came after scoring the opening basket of the second half.
- The Mountaineers outscored Clemson 19-7 out of the locker room to take a 59-47 lead and never led by less than three points in the final 11 minutes.
- Clemson climbed to within three points at 74-71, but surrendered two free throws and then committed three-consecutive turnovers, which West Virginia converted into an 81-71 lead.
WEST VIRGINIA NOTES
- Joe Mazzulla has now won 105 games in a Mountaineer uniform, the second-most in school history behind De’Sean Butler, who won 107 career games.
- Darryl Bryant scored 19 points to surpass 1,000 for his career. He needed just three points entering the game to reach the mark and now has 1,016 career points.
- The Mountaineers had five players score in double figures, which is tied for the second-most in any game this season (6 vs. Oakland on Nov. 12, 2010).
- Mazzulla tied his season high with 12 free-throw attempts, making 10. The Mountaineers converted 25 of 31 attempts (80.6 percent) at the line in the game.
Quotes are after the jump...
Q. Could you talk about the three plays that Dalton made at the end and what you did defensively to make those happen?
COACH HUGGINS: I didn't do anything. We went one‑three‑one to burn clock. They were attacking us off the bounce, and we didn't do a very good job of containing penetration. And we just thought, you know, when you go to one‑three‑one late, it takes more time to get a good shot, and we just wanted to burn some clock. I've been kind of talking to Pep (Pepper), and he's never played on the top until, whatever it was, three weeks ago maybe. He was always playing on the wing before. We're just trying to get him to stay between the ball and the next guy. I honestly didn't even see what happened the first time. I was looking at what they were doing on the baseline, I wasn't watching the ball. But no, those were big for us. That's kind of what Devin did a year ago for us. Devin made a bunch of plays at the top of it for us.
Q. Everybody is going to talk about the defense and the one‑three‑one and Dalton's steals and all that, but you guys score, whatever it is, 84 points, you get to the free‑throw line 31 times. How did that happen? That's not something you guys have done regularly this year.
COACH HUGGINS: Well, when you pressure the way they pressure, you're going to get some back‑cuts and you're going to get some of those kind of things. And we made some shots finally. We made some shots. But you get to the free‑throw line, Joe and Truck got to the free‑throw line, and Joe has been shooting free throws really well for us, and Truck has shot free throws all year for us.
I was shocked we scored 40 the first half. I told Larry coming in, you know, we've got to hold them to less than 40 the second half or we can't win. I thought we did a better job initially defensively. We just weren't in very good position. And then the one‑three‑one is just to slow people down. It's not to steal the ball, it's just to slow people down, and we were fortunate that Pep made a couple steals.
Q. Dalton, can you talk about the three plays at the end, the three turnovers, the steals that basically you converted and basically iced the game away?
DALTON PEPPER: We were mixing up defenses and we were getting in the passing lanes and stuff, so they were ‑‑ I don't think they were ready for it, and we just caught them off guard and got a few steals.
Q. For Dalton, right before you made those three steals they cut a 12‑point lead down to about three. What was going through your mind at that point as that lead was starting to shrink a little bit?
DALTON PEPPER: I mean, we just had to stay focused and just keep our heads, and Truck was attacking the rim real well and scoring. They really couldn't contain him. Same with Joe, they were kicking out, and K.J. was knocking down shots all day, so...
Q. Joe, does Dalton do this kind of stuff in practice?
JOE MAZZULLA: Actually the total opposite. When things are going bad and we need a basket, we usually just attack Dalton (laughter). He's perfect for the top of that one‑three‑one because of his length and his athleticism. Once we got him to understand what that position is and how you're supposed to play it, you know, he almost played it to perfection today. He's great for the top of that one‑three‑one, just not man to man.
On Clemson’s toughness…
"They’re definitely a tough team; they grind it out. They are a lot similar to us, in the first half they brought a lot of pressure on us."
On Dalton Pepper’s success…
"I call him Spiderman. I’m not really sure what he did, he hasn’t done that before all year, but whatever he did, he needs to keep doing it."
On losing the big lead at the end of the game...
"Maybe we played a little not to lose, instead of playing to win still. We gave them open looks that we didn’t give them at the beginning of the half."
On a possible rematch against Kentucky…
"Obviously a lot of hype was there last year when we beat them to go to the final four. I’m from Kentucky, so it’s always a special game for me."
On the unpredictability of the tournament…
"You never know what’s going to happen in this one game. This is the big dance, it’s what you play for all season."
On the game that helped us get this point…
"The Marquette game did us really good, we concentrated more. Our mindset was, we lost in the Big East, so we can’t lose this."
What was the talk at halftime that helped you regain the momentum…
"The talk at halftime was about doing what we do best. We just wanted to get back to that in the second half."
On the defense in the first half…
"I don’t remember the last time we gave up 40 points in one half. We just weren’t doing what we were supposed to on defense."
On picking up two early fouls…
"It’s frustrating watching my team fight and there is nothing I could do about it. I hate that"
On limiting Clemson’s points underneath…
"We just needed to help each other down low, we weren’t doing that. We just tried to help each other out in the second half."