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West Virginia moves on to Sweet Sixteen

19 March 2018

Marshall would never get the West Virginia lead to under 20 points and the Mountaineers built their lead up to thirty twice throughout the second half.

West Virginia University, the top men's basketball program in the state, imports most of its players from other states or even countries.

The top performer for the Thundering Herd was center Ajdin Penava.

Marshall surpassed its season low of 67 points, but just barely in a 39.3 percent shooting performance.

The Mountaineers opened as 11.5-point favorites to knock off the Thundering Herd but the line has jumped a full point to 12.5 at the majority of online sportsbooks.

But this was decided in the first 20 minutes thanks to West Virginia's dominant run to take control.

Six unanswered points later and the run was 19, the lead 14, and almost five and a half minutes since the last point of any kind for the Thundering Herd. It's better for West Virginia.

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Esa Ahmad's dunk gave WVU its biggest lead, 84-54, with 5:58 to go. The Mountaineers also forced him into eight turnovers. Perhaps a bit rattled by the press and annoyed by the refs, the Marshall bench was assessed a warning at one point in the half.

Jevon Carter was the one leading the way.

"I don't know if it's any different than it's been for the majority of the year, to be honest with you". We don't just want to go to the Sweet 16. That was a two-and-a-half hour trip for the Mountaineers, as opposed to 55 minutes for the Thundering Herd.

The second meeting was much of the same.

Lamont West had a big first half contributing nine points and six rebounds.

Gov. James Justice sat with WVU's fans for the first half and joined MU's turnout of about 600 supporters for the second half.

The one exception was 2010 when the Mountaineers reached the Final Four.

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Jevon Carter (West Virginia) scored a team-high 28 points for the winning team, making 10 of 18 attempts from the field for a 77.8% field goal percentage. "They love to get the ball out up the floor and get easy transition buckets, so we've just got to play team defense and try to limit their transition points".

Sure enough, fourth-seeded West Virginia took care of business, setting up one of the most intriguing second-round games in the tournament. "They can come to Morgantown anytime they want to play".

"That's what we thought our advantage was coming in", Huggins said about the rebounding.

WVU advanced by downing Murray State in its opening round game.

The Charleston native made four 3s to help him score 27 points in the win versus Wichita State. The West Virginia defense pestered him throughout, forcing seven turnovers.

Marshall finished the season 25-11 overall, and with it ended a long list of dry spells. The Marshall sophomore out of Bosnia scored scored 18 points and added six rebounds and six assists. "I think what we learned is that in order to get ball movement you have to space faster". A matchup against No. 5 West Virginia in an epic in-state battle Sunday night. For Marshall, it was.

Konate let out a thunderous scream, drowning out the Thundering Herd and the contingent of green-clad fans which followed them to Viejas Arena for the NCAA tournament Round of 32. "We had to get the first one out of the way and get the win but now we have to focus on Marshall". West Virginia has faced Villanova just once in the NCAA Tournament in 1962.

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To most of the country, the barely talked about MAC champs - and all their 26 wins - weren't expected to do much of anything. Deandre Ayton scored 14 points and collecting 13 rebounds for his 24th double-double, which is now tied for the NCAA lead.

The Mountaineers will take on the Wildcats on Friday, March 23 in Boston.

West Virginia moves on to Sweet Sixteen