MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Alex Ruoff scored a career-high 23 points as West Virginia kept its NCAA tournament hopes alive with a 79-65 win over Cincinnati on Saturday.
The game was the season finale for both schools.WVU snapped a two-game losing streak and kept itself on the NCAA bubble. A win in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday could give West Virginia its third straight NCAA appearance.The Bearcats, meanwhile, won't be playing in the postseason for the first time in 17 years, including 14 appearances in the NCAA playoffs. Cincinnati lost 11 of its final 12 games and all nine of its road contests this season.WVU (21-8, 9-7 Big East) hit 14 3-pointers, including five in the first seven minutes, to build an early 17-6 lead and never looked back.The Mountaineers led 40-25 at the break, and the Bearcats never got closer than 12 over the final 20 minutes.Ruoff set his previous career high in the season's first meeting with Cincinnati. The Bearcats shot 41 free throws and turned the ball over six times in that contest.Saturday was different.Cincinnati (11-19, 2-14) had 12 turnovers and got to the line for just 14 shots. And Ruoff hit five three-pointers, Darris Nichols added 16 points, including all 10 free-throw attempts, and Frank Young added 10 for WVU.Cincinnati was led by Deonta Vaughn with 18 and John Williamson, who scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.Cincinnati finished with its worst in 24 seasons. The Bearcats finished 3-25 in 1983-84.