Notre Dame comes into today’s game with a seven game winning streak including three wins in a row on the road in conference play. Entering today, Notre Dame is the only Big East team to hand Pitt a conference loss. The Irish still have an outside chance to catch the Panthers and win the Big East, but they need some help as they are two games back on the loss side.
It’s a big and experienced Notre Dame team as four of the five starters stand at 6-8. Leading scorer Ben Hansbrough started his career at Mississippi before transfering to Notre Dame. He is the brother of former college All-American and current NBA player Tyler Hansbrough from North Carolina. Ben Hansbrough is averaging 17.3 points per game, but that average is up over 19 points per game in Big East contests. All of Notre Dame’s starters are fourth or fifth year players.
–Mountaineers trailed 27-26 at the half as the shooting woes continued in that first half. WVU was just 8-28 from the field. Joe Mazzulla and Kevin Jones each played 20 minutes in the first half, but John Flowers played just nine minutes despite picking up just one foul.
–Flowers can make a big impact in the second half as he should be rested and ready. Flowers got a big rebound basket early in the second half. Truck Bryant also hit a couple of huge threes during a 10-2 WVU run that gave the Mountaineers their biggest lead of the game at five.
–Mountaineers up ten at the 13:50 mark after Jonnie West hit a three off the bench. The Mountaineers were not happy with the defensive effort by Casey Mitchell in the first half providing some minutes for West here in the second half. West had not seen significant action in a game since Feb. 2 at the Coliseum against Seton Hall. That was also the last game he hit a three point shot. Sparked by Bryant & West, WVU hit four three point shots in the first eight minutes of the second half after connecting on just two the entire first half.
–The Mountaineers have hit 9 of their 12 shots from the field in this second half. Mazzulla has been brilliant again. After his seven assist effort at Syracuse, the senior has a game high 15 points with seven assists and just one turnover in the first nine minutes of the second half.
–Each coach issued a technical in this second half. Mike Brey flew off the Notre Dame bench on to the floor and got one so his star player and leading scorer Hansrough wouldn’t get one following a close block/charge situation. The Mountaineers made the two technical shots to go up 12, but then missed the front end of the 1-1. WVU is still 10-13 from the foul line in the game.
–Another Bryant three made it a 16 point game. Truck is 4-5 from the field (3-4 on 3’s) in the second half after going 0-4 in the first half.
–The Mountaineers held Hansbrough without a second half field goal for the first 12:30 of the half. Good job (for the most part) taking the three away and making him put it on the floor and drive.
–Great sign for Truck. Let’s hope the shooting slump is over. Truck finished 4-5 from three and 5-6 from the field overall in the second half. Mazzulla is going to finish the game with 15 points, five rebounds, seven assists and just one turnover.
–This one might seal the deal for the NCAA tournament just as long as WVU doesn’t turn around and lose the final four games of the regular season and in the first round in New York. The key now is trying to get into the top eight in the conference to avoid playing Tuesday.