- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – It's halftime at the only 1 vs. 2 regional final and West Virginia is up, 28-26, on Kentucky.
Now do you understand why both coaches were a bit miffed at being put against each other in a regional final when they were clearly both No. 1s?
West Virginia can’t beat Kentucky inside so why not make the attempt to take the Wildcats down from the perimeter? So far it’s working as the Mountaineers have made all eight of their field goals from the 3-point line. Big Shot Da’Sean Butler has arrived in Syracuse with four of the eight threes.
Remember when missing Darryl Bryant was a big story earlier this week for West Virginia? Well, Joe Mazzulla has shown no signs of being a player with a bum shoulder. Mazzulla has tossed his body around with no reservation, going to the basket and trying to create. He made a 3-pointer, his first of the season, after missing the previous six. He also came up with a huge steal on a long pass that set up a 3-pointer at the other end for Butler.
West Virginia’s 1-3-1 defense was much more of a problem for Kentucky then I think anyone realized it would be prior to the start of the game.
Kentucky’s John Wall is getting to the basket but he’s having problems finishing. The Mountaineers are there to challenge him at almost every shot. The most impressive came when John Flowers rose above the back line to swat away his shot.
Quick draw Curtis Shaw served up a technical on DeAndre Liggins that seemed a bit excessive. He also then warned the Kentucky players and bench. NCAA coordinator of officials John Adams headed into the locker room to talk to Shaw. I asked him what he thought of the rough half and he said, “interesting half.”
The Wildcats dominated the backboard at 29-13, but the Wildcats aren’t converting much. The Wildcats have only four points off the bench. That has to change here in the second. Kentucky coach John Calipari isn’t getting much production out of that second unit.
Not sure I saw Kentucky having a 10-3 advantage in – turnovers at the half.
Impressed with the turnout here at the Carrier Dome. Solid crowd. The entire lower bowl is filled with Kentucky and West Virginia fans. Lots of blue and yellow here.
Selection committee chair Dan Guerrero (UCLA athletic director) has made his way here for the championship game of the East.
Still can’t believe Butler is in the Final Four. What a great story. Oops, wrong regional.