West Virginia takes down Missouri State in overtime
WVU head coach Bob Huggins collects career win No. 700
Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 04:12
LAS VEGAS –- As time winded down in regulation in Thursday night's game between West Virginia and Missouri State at the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic, it didn't look like West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins would capture his milestone 700th career win.
But that was before Gary Browne hit a game-tying 3-point shot in traffic with 1.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, West Virginia (9-2) gritted out a 70-68 win to make Huggins the fourth-active head coach to reach the milestone.
"He's going to be my coach for four years. I've had a lot of coaches back home that are really good, but Coach Huggins is a hall of famer," Browne said, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. "I respect him. I want to learn everything he tells me. Number 700 win means a lot for him, but if we don't win (against Baylor Friday), this win won't mean anything to him."
Huggins was swarmed by coaches and players following the game, including former WVU player Hot Rod Hundley and WVU President James P. Clements. Shirts celebrating the win were also handed out to the players.
"We've had wonderful kids," Huggins said about the milestone. "They're great guys. They're very caring and just good people. I'm very fortunate to have a lot of dear friends. I'm very fortunate in my life to be surrounded by people to care about you no matter what happens."
For much of the game, though, it looked like the Mountaineers were going to have to wait another night for a chance to get Huggins the milestone.
Before Browne's miracle shot, Missouri State (7-4) had a chance to make it a two possession game with under ten seconds left, but senior Kevin Jones came up with a one-on-one defensive stop to give the Mountaineers life.
"I just knew I had to stop him. I knew he was going to take the shot," Jones said. "That's what they wanted. I just wanted to do whatever was possible to try to get him to miss this shot. It rimmed out but it was a good, contested shot."
The Bears used an 11-3 second-half run to give them a 55-45 lead after being tied at 32 at halftime.
Missouri State shot 54 percent from the field, including an 8-for-18 mark from 3-point range. It was led by three double-figure scorers – Caleb Patterson led with 18 points, while Kyle Weems and Jamar Gulley had 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Mike Bizoukas had ten assists for the Bears.
West Virginia freshman Aaron Brown, who finished with 14 points, kept the Mountaineers in it in the second half. He finished with 15 points, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
"I just want to bring energy and intensity to the game," he said. "I'm just trying to do what coach wants me to do.
The Mountaineers made a run in the second half fueled by a pair of Truck Bryant 3-point shots. His second 3-pointer of the half cut the Missouri State lead to 59-55 with 6:04 left.
"This showed a lot about our team that we get through tough situations," Bryant said. "I like wins like this that are based on big plays."
Brown missed one of his two 3-point shots in the game with 4:04 left – it could have cut the lead to just one – 58-59. But instead, Missouri State struck next with a dunk to give the Bears a 61-55 lead.
West Virginia was able to cut the lead to 61-59 following a Jones' free throw and a Gary Browne steal and layup.
In overtime, West Virginia took a 65-63 lead after a pair of Kevin Noreen free throws for its first lead since the 2:53 mark of the first half, but Missouri responded with a layup and free throw with 3:05 remaining in overtime to give the Bears a 68-67 lead.
Jones led West Virginia with 16 points and 13 points – his sixth double-double of the season. West Virginia senior Truck Bryant had 15 points.
"It's big because we definitely wanted to get coach to 700 wins," Jones said. "He means so much to us and helps us grow. It was definitely important for us to come out here and get this win out of the way."
West Virginia will play No. 7 Baylor (11-0) Friday at 9 p.m. EST (6 p.m. local). Baylor beat Saint Mary's College (10-2) Thursday night 72-59.
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