To this television viewer, West Virginia University’s 73-66 upset of NCAA favorite Kentucky Saturday night was just another case of WVU coach Bob Huggins outfoxing Kentucky’s John Calipari.
In making its record 31-6 and reaching the Final Four for only the second time in nearly 120 years of collegiate basketball, West Virginia obviously had a well-planned procedure in taking control of the contest and maintaining as much as a 16-point lead in the second half.
It was only the third loss in 38 games for the Wildcats and only the fifth in an intermittent series with the Mountaineers, which Kentucky leads 13-5.
I thought that Joe Mazzulla, during a career-high 17-point performance, showed what he was made of in this victory. After WVU scored only 3-point goals in the first half, Mazzulla broke through for three quick layups as West Virginia moved on top, 47-36. Obviously, the Mountaineers adjusted to an inside game from the perimeter shooting, where the Mountaineers had eight 3-pointers in the opening half and not a single goal from inside the arc in the first 20 minutes.
Two years ago, Mazzulla was the architect of the 73-67 upset of Duke in the NCAA tournament in Washington, scoring 13 points with 11 rebounds and eight assists.
He certainly looked like he has regained his fine form after having undergone major surgery on his left shoulder last year.
The veteran point guard from Johnston, R.I., who has been granted another season for 2010-11 for medical reasons, eventually fouled out of Saturday night’s game. His teammates held tight to pull out the victory.
The Mountaineers made some critical free throws before the last minute or two and some struggles at the stripe. They kept the winning margin, though, and the Wildcats were kept at bay down the stretch as the clock ticked out.
There were several thousand WVU fans in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., cheering this gutty group along as the Mountaineers pulled off the upset.