As March comes to a close, the West Virginia men’s basketball team and its fans were left without the opportunity to make a push on the national stage in the NCAA Tournament. The tournament’s cancellation was a disappointment for most, however, it paved the way for celebration and reminiscence on the 10th anniversary of the Mountaineers’ historic run to the Final Four in 2010.
Bob Huggins was in his third year at the helm of his alma mater, coming off a disappointing 2008-2009 season which saw WVU take an early exit in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Luckily, WVU would lose just one starter while returning nearly all of their contributors, providing valuable experience heading into March.
West Virginia spent much of the season in the top ten of the AP poll, taking 24 wins and six losses in the regular season, only two of which came at home. They then made a run to the Big East title at Madison Square Garden, but it wasn’t easy — each of their three wins in the conference tournament came by a bucket, and it took some late-game heroics from Da’Sean Butler to seal the win with a game-winning floater in traffic to seal the championship for the Mountaineers.
For many teams, that would be the climax of the story, or even the end — but the Mountaineers were just getting started. West Virginia was awarded a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament, with an opening-round matchup with Morgan State in Buffalo, NY.
First Round: No. 15 Morgan State vs. No. 2 West Virginia (Buffalo, NY)
West Virginia didn’t have much trouble with Morgan State behind double-digit scoring performances by Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks, with the latter grabbing 13 rebounds for a double-double. MSU was held to just 29.5 percent from the field as they struggled to score the ball.
Second Round: No. 10 Missouri vs. No. 2 West Virginia (Buffalo, NY)
Da’Sean Butler found the hot hand against Mizzou, nailing four three-pointers and adding another 12 points on 13 attempts from the free throw line. This matchup wasn’t quite as easy as the previous one, however, as West Virginia carried just a 5-point lead into the locker room at half time while having to stave off four double-digit scoring performances from the Tigers.
Sweet Sixteen: No. 11 Washington vs. No. 2 West Virginia (Syracuse, NY)
Kevin Jones emerged as the star in this matchup, leading West Virginia with 18 points and 8 rebounds while Ebanks and Butler also chipped in double-figure games. The Mountaineers faced off against a trio of future NBA players, including guard Isaiah Thomas, who scored 13 points for the Huskies before fouling out.
Elite Eight: No. 2 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Kentucky (Syracuse, NY)
Kentucky and their freshmen phenoms of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were heavy favorites heading into this contest, having smashed all three of their tournament opponents until this point. The tall task struck no fear in the Mountaineers, who got major contributions from Ebanks, Butler, Jones and Joe Mazzulla, with his 17 points marking his scoring high-point in the tournament.
- Each of these contests have been replayed on the WVU men’s basketball Facebook page on the tenth anniversary of each game, at the exact time it was tipped. The Mountaineers’ final game of their run in the Final Four against Duke will be shown on April 3 at 9:12 p.m.