The last time the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Kentucky Wildcats faced each other in Morgantown, the WVU Coliseum had been opened for just six days; Bob Huggins was playing basketball at Indian Valley South High School; and the Wildcats had only won four of their eight National Championships. No. 3 ranked Kentucky would leave Morgantown that day with a 106-100 win over the Mountaineers.
48 years later, an unranked Kentucky’s return to Morgantown took a very similar path, resulting in a 83-76 win over No. 7 West Virginia.
West Virginia jumped on the Wildcats right out of the gate, and opened up a 10-3 lead at the first media timeout, capped off by this beautiful sequence by Konate and Carter.
sags and jevon out here doin em dirty pic.twitter.com/z5fmlhEivZ— one armed joe mazzulla ended john walls season (@SmokingMusket) January 28, 2018
Things couldn’t have gone any better for West Virginia in the first 20 minutes. Carter finished the half with 20 points, including going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Konate accumulated 5 blocks, and the Mountaineers went to the locker room up 48-33.
But as we’ve seen multiple times this season, including this past Monday in Fort Worth, the West Virginia Mountaineers have a tendency to get away from their offense in the second half and let double digit leads turn slip away and lead to losses.
Kentucky went to work right away, and opened up a 10-0 run near the midpoint of the second half, causing Bob Huggins to make the switch to the 1-3-1 zone. The Wildcats would grab the lead with 10:06 remaining in the game, with a jumper from Sacha Killeya-Jones putting Kentucky up 60-58.
Konate was whistled for his fourth foul shortly after Kentucky took the lead, and was forced to sit out in one of the most crucial periods of the game. West Virginia finally woke up, after realizing the game was slipping from their hands, and Beetle Bolden hit back-to-back threes to put West Virginia back up 66-62 at the under 8:00 media timeout.
Konate returned and the two teams traded blows as time continued to wind down. With 2:30 left in the game, the Wildcats held a 74-70 lead. Bolden would hit another clutch three a minute later to tie the game back up at 74-74, but Kevin Knox would answer with another dagger from the corner to put Kentucky back on top. That was followed up with a Nick Richards dunk to give the Wildcats a 5 point lead with 33 seconds remaining.
The closing 30 seconds went just about the same way the previous 19:30 went, with the Mountaineer continuing to play sloppy and forcing shots. Wenyen Gabriel was able to ice the game at the charity stripe, handing the Mountaineers their fourth loss in five games.
Carter led West Virginia with 26 points, 7 assists. Konate finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 7 blocks. James Bolden added 17 points, while Daxter Miles Jr. chipped in 7 points.
West Virginia jumps back into Big 12 conference play on Wednesday, when they travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the Iowa State Cyclones. That game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00PM ET and will be televised on ESPNU.