Daxter Miles Jr. called his shot before the game even started. "36-1" is how Kentucky would end its season. The Wildcats had other thoughts as they trounced the West Virginia Mountaineers 78-39. This was not the Mountaineers night as they delivered one of the most anemic offensive performances in recent memory.
In a game where a foul was called on average of once every 48 seconds, the Mountaineers were never able to get into a rhythm on offense or defense. On the other hand, the Kentucky Wildcats showed everyone who watched why they are undefeated so far this year. They are a group of physical specimens who play together extremely well and never let up on the throttle. Kentucky does what it wants, when it wants.
The first few possessions of this game told the tale of how things would be for WVU on this night as Kentucky jumped out to an early 7-2 lead before Bob Huggins called a timeout to try and settle his squad. From there, things went from bad to worse as the Wildcats poured in bucket after bucket. After shooting 1 of 9 from the field early, WVU found itself down 18-2 before Juwan Staten hit a three that was reviewed and eventually called a 2. Meanwhile, Kentucky was shooting the lights out with 11 of 16 from the field. At 36-15 and a little over 7 minutes left in the half, the announcers were already talking about the Notre Dame matchup. At halftime, Kentucky lead 44-18. It was a difficult game to watch as a Mountaineer fan.
But, we could turn it around in the second half, right? Wrong. WVU was able to manage just 1 point until 11:41 left in the second half, and found itself down 54-23 after back to back baskets. That's right, we didn't break 20 points until 11:41 left in the second half. The Mountaineers were shooting 14% at the time. Did I mention it was not WVU's night?
Kentucky ended up winning the game 78-39, but enough about the game.
This Mountaineer team was special. They brought a new brand of basketball to Morgantown and got the entire state (with the exception of those wacky Marshall fans) behind Press Virginia. They were scrappy, persistent, annoying, and fun to watch. They exceeded every expectation after last years' debacle of a team. They banded together and rallied our fans around them. Juwan Staten gave us a spectacular senior season, and Gary Browne played his heart out off the bench each, and every, game. Devin Williams grew into a man right before our eyes, and our young freshman showed moxie beyond their years. We made it to the Sweet 16 during, what was supposed to be, a rebuilding year. How incredible is that?
This team has an opportunity to be something special for the next few years. As much as tonight hurt to watch, I'm as proud as ever to be a Mountaineer and can't wait to see what the future has in store for this group. So, let's dry off our tears, sleep this one off, and wake up as we do every morning: as Mountaineers.
See you next season,