Rushed Reactions: #5 West Virginia 85, #12 Murray State 68

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish.

Three Key Takeaways.

Jevon Carter Will Take West Virginia as Far as He Can (USA Today Images)

  1. West Virginia is a Football Team Masquerading as a Basketball Team. If you haven’t seen the Mountaineers up close, it is difficult to know just how physical they are both on and off the basketball. Carter, in particular, barrels into the lane like a wrecking ball, daring anyone to bounce off of him. That he has incredibly nice body control and touch around the rim only makes him tougher to defend. It also makes it difficult to determine just how good — meaning, at basketball — the Mountaineers actually are. Murray State had no chance to play through West Virginia’s physicality today, and it’s an open question whether another mid-major like Marshall (setting aside the rivalry component) will either.
  2. The Mountaineers Go as Jevon Carter Goes. Carter was absolutely sublime today on both ends of the floor, and one defensive stance in particular crystallized it. Murray had been hanging around in the 8-12 point range for most of the game, and Carter had had enough. He decided to put the defensive clamps on Jonathan Stark out near the right hash mark. Bellying up to him in a perfect crouch, he tipped the ball away from the slighter guard, picked it up and headed downcourt. Seeing that he had a trailing Logan Routt coming, he dished to the big man for the resounding dunk. If there was any question about the game up to that point, it was effectively sealed on that play by Carter.
  3. Murray State Will be Back. The Racers blew through the OVC this season to the tune of an 18-2 record that included a 13-game winning streak entering the NCAA Tournament. They ran into a bad matchup here in San Diego, but three starters and most of their returning minutes are expected back in Murray next season. Matt McMahon is just the latest rising star coach in a long series of them at this proud basketball school, from Mark Gottfried (Cal State Northridge), Mick Cronin (Cincinnati) to Billy Kennedy (Texas A&M) to Steve Prohm (Iowa State). The OVC has traditionally been a one-bid league, but the Racers have earned 12 league titles over the past 30 years. They will be back.

Player of the Game. Jevon Carter, West Virginia. When Carter is on his game as he was today, West Virginia becomes a much tougher opponent to handle. The Mountaineers’ senior captain contributed 21 points, eight assists and five rebounds while showing all the leadership that you would expect from someone who has no interest in seeing his career end.


  • “So I guess it was about four years ago we made a conscious effort that we’re not going to recruit guys that we have to beg to play.” — Bob Huggins, describing a recruiting philosophy shift that is working well for his program.
  • “He’s not here. He’s not here.” — Huggins, answering (?) consecutive questions about the status of D’Angelo Hunter.
  • “This is not a Hatfields and McCoy thing. […] You have to understand that they are almost four hours from us. So it’s not like we’re next door. I was at Cincinnati for four years. We were a mile and a half from Xavier’s campus.” — Huggins, on the rivalry with Marshall.

Sights and Sounds. The second game of the afternoon session in San Diego certainly didn’t have the show-stopping drama of the earlier game between Wichita State and Marshall, and it showed in the general malaise of the crowd. Expect a pretty raucous environment here on Saturday when the Take Me Home, West Virginia starts playing.

What’s Next. West Virginia moves on to the Round of 32 for the third time in the last four seasons. Both times the Mountaineers made it to this round, they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen (where they lost). Murray State wasn’t the #12 seed capable of pulling the upset today, but this program is an accomplished one and will certainly be back.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *