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Mountaineer Throw Back Thursday: Darris Nichols' Buzzer Beater

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We're starting a new feature around here to help keep the off-season doldrums at bay. Today we look back at Darris Nichols in the NIT.

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After a disappointing end to a disappointing basketball season - both by the women and the men - Mountaineer fans are staring the dreaded offseason dead in the face. We here at the Musket thought a nice, tall glass of yesteryear might be just the thing to take away that lingering taste of athletics mediocrity. Over the coming weeks we'll be doing a feature called "Throwback Thursday" where we'll remember great Mountaineer Moments from the past and revel in them for a bit longer. So pull up a chair, pour a beer from our pitcher, get 'Glory Days' fired up on the jukebox and let's do some rememberin'......

Following the incredibly memorable two-year run of WVU basketball where teams led by Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey advanced to the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen respectively, WVU and its young roster were not selected for a third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance despite posting a 22-9 record through the regular season and Big East Tournament. The Mountaineers consolation prize was a #1 seed in the NIT. WVU won the first three rounds of the NIT, hosting and winning games, against Delaware State, UMass, and N.C. State earning a trip to Madison Square Garden for a semifinals matchup against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Running point for the 2007 Mountaineers was the vastly underrated Darris "Dimes and Nicks" Nichols who was a sophomore at the time. Nichols is one of the standard bearers of efficiency for WVU point guards in the modern era with a career 2.95 assist-to-turnover ratio. To put that number in perspective current WVU point guard Juwan Staten ended his dominant all-conference 2013 season with a 2.79 assist-to-turnover ratio. Nichols would add his name to Mountaineer lore with this buzzer beating gem in Madison Square Garden against the Bulldogs. The thing that sticks out most to me about this play was that Nichols had just missed a shot badly, and that Coach Beilien had enough faith in Nichols, and Nichols enough confidence, to take another shot. That faith and confidence was were rewarded with WVU advancing to the NIT Finals where they would go on to defeat the Clemson Tigers and be crowned Tournament Champions, following the NIT Championship with a run of four straight NCAA appearances.