In what South Florida was calling "the biggest home game in 20 years", West Virginia knew they needed to win to keep their NCAA Tournament chances alive and they walked out winners after a very physical game against USF.
The first point of the game was not scored until the 16:12 mark when USF forward Victor Rudd knocked down a free throw. Kevin Jones opened the scoring for WVU, hitting the baseline jumper that he is well known for. Aaron Brown scored an and-1 to give West Virginia a 4-3 lead at the first media timeout.
After a quick 5-0 run for South Florida, Kevin Jones hit a three from the corner to get WVU within one. Jones then gave the Mountaineers a 9-8 lead, hitting a jumper from the free throw line. West Virginia went on a 6-0 run to extend the WVU lead by five, 15-10.
Scoring started to pick up under the 4:00 mark. Kevin Jones hit a three to put WVU up 20-15, followed by an Another Collins layup for USF. Deniz Kilicli hit a hook shot, KJ got the defensive rebound on the other end, then Jones made another jumpshot to give WVU a seven point lead.
After two missed threes by Kevin Jones to end the half, WVU went into the locker room leading USF by five, 24-19.
You probably noticed that Kevin Jones was mentioned a lot during the first half and that is not an accident. He was responsible for half of the Mountaineers' points in the first half, leading the team with 12. He also grabbed six rebounds. Anthony Collins led the Bulls at the half with seven points.
The first half went exactly how many thought it would, a very physical and defensive basketball game. West Virginia shot a dismal 31% from the field while South Florida shot an even worse 29%.
USF guard Hugh Robertson opened up the scoring in the second half with a running layup. Victor Rudd then scored on a run out to cut the WVU lead to one. Rudd scored again to put USF up by one. The 6-0 start to the half caused Bob Huggins to call a timeout.
The Mountaineers continued to do what they have done all season, struggling to score for long stretches. Truck Bryant was 0-8 from the field at the second media timeout in the second half. Luckily for WVU, they were still down by just four points. Kevin Jones scored his first bucket of the second half to give WVU the lead back, 34-33.
Ron Anderson Jr. gave the Bulls the lead back after scoring on a turn around jumper with the shot clock running down. Truck Bryant finally got his first field goal with a little under eight minutes to go in the game to cut the USF lead to one. On the next WVU possession, Bryant scored on an acrobatic layup and was also fouled on the play. He nailed the free throw to put WVU up two, 41-39.
Toarlyn Fitzpatrick hit a three to tie the game at 44 at the 3:00 mark. Kevin Jones made a huge block to prevent the go-ahead dunk from going in on USF's next possession, then knocked down two free throws on the other end to give the Mountaineers a two point lead.
With 40 seconds left, Gary Browne draws a big offensive foul against Jawanza Poland. USF fouled Truck Bryant with 13.5 seconds on the clock and Truck was able to knock down both free throws to give West Virginia a four point lead.
WVU was able to hang on and beat the Bulls, 50-44.
Kevin Jones notched his 20th double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Truck Bryant stepped it up late in the second half, finishing with 16 points and made all 12 of his free throws.
The Mountaineers ended up shooting 28% for the entire game, while USF improved their shooting drastically in the second half, finishing at 40% for the game. WVU outrebounded USF 33-29 and beat them on the offensive glass 12-6.
West Virginia heads to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament next week in hopes of improving their resume, although with the win today, their chances are looking sky high.