Saturday, January 23, 2010
WVU fights back, stands tall in Morgantown
By Eamonn Brennan
The first thing you learn in journalism school, besides that "media is changing" -- $35,000 a year is the going rate to learn this all-important and otherwise unobtainable lesson -- is that you shouldn't write the following sentence, like, ever: "It was a tale of two halves." It's a worthless, uninteresting cliche, and my jaded journalism professors were totally right.
But sometimes, the cliche is applicable. It happens. I'm still not going to write it, but it happens. So it was today in Morgantown, W.Va., as the Mountaineers recovered from a 40-28 halftime deficit to take a 71-65 win over Ohio State.
If you didn't know any better, you would have thought two entirely different teams showed up. First Half: West Virginia was a bumbling squad unable to handle Evan Turner or William Buford; Second Half: West Virginia was a tough defensive beast up to the task of defending Turner, arguably the country's best player. This can be explained in two ways: 1) West Virginia playing much better basketball in the second half, naturally; and 2) Ohio State playing three of its starters (Turner, Buford, and David Lighty) the entire 40 minutes and its other two top guys, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale (awesome name, by the way) 29 and 32 minutes, respectively. This is not a deep team. And for as well-conditioned as athletes like Turner and Buford are, 40 straight minutes of basketball in a hostile environment against a physical team like West Virginia is a recipe for collapse.
In any case, West Virginia's 14-point comeback was the second such comeback we've seen today, and it vindicated the Mountaineers' ugly first half. Losing to Ohio State at home is nothing to be ashamed of, but doing so while playing that poorly would have been. Instead, Bob Huggins can breathe easy.