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1-seeds Kansas, Gonzaga top Thursday's NCAA Sweet 16 slate

25 March 2017

Despite a 21-point performance by Jevon Carter, West Virginia's road to the Final Four stops short after a heartbreaking 61-58 loss to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 at the SAP Center in San Jose California. Coach Bob Huggins appears to have the Mountaineers peaking at the right time.

West Virginia played an outstanding game against Notre Dame in round two after a solid victory over Bucknell to kick off the NCAA Tournament.

But Jevon Carter missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds and the Mountaineers failed to get a third attempt off in time.

"Yeah, that was a mistake on my behalf", he said. "I don't think these guys think I have one". "I think that says a lot about the guys we have". "If I am in that position again, I'll take it to the basket".

"I call him Big Shot Bob", Few said, referring to retired National Basketball Association player Robert Horry, who was known for making huge shots.

It didn't come easily.

But now come the 'Zags of 2017, 35-1, the No. 1 team in the country almost all season per Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin, now one win away from finally checking off that box. I'm not going to foul anybody. Make that three last-ditch chances - it wasn't going to happen for the Zags without a huge does of anxiety, of course. But it's not about me or my monkeys or dogs or cats. "The shot came and I let it go". Did I mention that was just the 1st half? "So just happy it went down". West Virginia was owning the glass.

"Their size bothers everybody around the rim", Huggins said. When you're driving at the goal and you run into (Gonzaga senior Przemek Karnowksi), 7-foot-1, 300-and-whatever-he-is, it's hard to score. If the Boilermakers were on the other side of the bracket, they'd have a better shot, but the path is just too tough.

West Virginia finished the half with six straight points and was up 42-33 at the break.

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Specifically, the Bulldogs did it with defense - reinforcing the bona fides of a team that ranks first nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency according to Pomeroy.

The Bison hung around in the second half.

When the halftime buzzer went off, WVU was shooting 22.6 percent from the field.

The sequence that saved Gonzaga's season actually began when West Virginia's Nathan Adrian stripped Nigel Williams-Goss after he'd secured the rebound of a missed free throw. WCC Player of the Year Williams-Goss was held to 10 points on 2-for-10 shooting with five turnovers.

The Mountaineers grabbed 25 rebounds in the 1st half, 11 on the offensive end.

But the Mountaineers, fueled by Carter, their whippet-quick point guard, soon wiped out their deficit.

Carter tried to use the screens, but he was bottled up by the Gonzaga defense.

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few discussed the Sweet Sixteen matchup as he does any game: calm and matter-of-fact. "It was disappointing we didn't dig out any of those rebounds, but at the same time we flooded out to those shooters after the rebounds". West Virginia on the other hand, has none. "It would be great to be able to give it to them".

Okay then. What would be a better way to put "that one really big milestone that everyone associated with your program so desperately, desperately wants?" OR led 60-55 before the Wolverines hit back-to-back 3-pointers to retake the lead. So we have a bunch of experience guarding that. And kids at BYU shoot them deep like that.

1-seeds Kansas, Gonzaga top Thursday's NCAA Sweet 16 slate