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Tuesday, March 2, 2010
TMA: Da'Sean Butler leaves in style

By Eamonn Brennan

The Morning After is our semi-daily recap of the night's best basketball action. Try not to make it awkward.

No. 8 West Virginia 81, No. 20 Georgetown 68: A few things either learned or observed while watching last night's relatively easy West Virginia win over Georgetown:

1. Da'Sean Butler is a Mountaineer through and through. It's not like this is a revelation. But in a sport that requires us to nibble at the edges of teams' personalities so often, that requires us to keep half an eye on everyone and never a full eye on anyone, hearing Da'Sean Butler's fully emotional, front-and-center response to his final home game in Morgantown was borderline revelatory:
"I definitely wanted to win on my Senior Night against a good team like them," Butler said, his voice cracking. "When I was taken out at the end of the game, it just kind of hit me, like I'm not playing here anymore and it just took off from there. I thought about everything and I had every emotion possible. Happy, sad, scared -- just getting ready to grow up. You never know what's out there."

Any graduate who hasn't been overwhelmed with that feeling -- that sinking "What am I going to do now?" thing that ruthlessly invades your gut during your final months at school -- didn't like college all that much in the first place. Heck, we've all felt that before. We can capital-I Identify. Not to get all syrupy here, but that's a little taste of what makes sports so very awesome sometimes. It was cool. (Oh, and it didn't hurt that Butler finished his storied Morgantown career -- he ended up third in scoring all-time behind Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley and holds the school record with 100-plus double-figure scoring games -- with a tidy 22 points, six rebounds and six assists.)

2. Austin Freeman is very important to Georgetown's ability to handle the ball on the perimeter, score on the perimeter, penetrate from the perimeter -- Austin Freeman is pretty much the best thing about Georgetown's perimeter, and when he's out of the game, his team suffers. Duh, right?

3. West Virginia doesn't always have to outrebound you to win. The nation's top offensive rebounding team by efficiency didn't outwork its opponents on the offensive glass Monday night. What the Mountaineers did do was rarely turn the ball over and get to the free throw line at a high rate. Georgetown played even with WVU ... except in those two categories. It was more than enough.

4. There was one somewhat important bit of postseason seeding on the line here (besides Georgetown's potentially plummeting NCAA tournament seed, of course): Big East tourney seeding. With the win, the Mountaineers sealed a direct double-bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. Skipping those early conference tournament games means fewer opportunities to lapse and have a bad upset. This is, obviously, a good thing.

No. 25 Texas 87, Oklahoma 76: Oklahoma led by three with just under 10 minutes remaining. This is all you need to know about the relative ugliness of Texas' first half -- and the relative ugliness of the past month and a half of Texas' season. The Longhorns have suffered some bad losses in that time. A home loss to a sub-.500 Sooners team -- one with its own dire share of personnel and chemistry issues -- would have been the worst.

Instead, Texas fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Damion James got 24 points a win on Senior Night, and freshman J'Covan Brown, who suffered a neck injury and was carted off the floor at Texas A&M Saturday, returned to score 15 points and notch five assists in relief duty.

Everywhere else: Pretty quiet night last night. Get the full download here.