Feb. 27, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -Kevin Jones scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half and No. 8 West Virginia came from 13 points down to beat Cincinnati 74-68 on Saturday.
West Virginia (22-6, 11-5 Big East) can earn a bye in the first two rounds of the conference tournament with a win over No. 11 Georgetown on Monday night.
Cincinnati led 46-36 after a pair of baskets by sophomore Yancy Gates two minutes into the second half. But the Bearcats went more than nine minutes without a field goal and West Virginia used a big rebounding advantage to take over in the second half.
Darryl Bryant added 14 points, Devin Ebanks had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Wellington Smith had 10 points for West Virginia. Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins beat his former school for the first time in three tries.
Deonta Vaughn scored 15 points, Lance Stephenson had 14 and Gates added 10 for Cincinnati (16-12, 7-9), which saw its NCAA tournament hopes take a hit.
The Bearcats have games remaining against No. 7 Villanova and at Georgetown to finish the regular season. The conference tournament follows where Cincinnati has never won a game.
Cincinnati is the Big East’s worst free-throw shooting team but the Bearcats went 13 of 15 from the line, including 9 of 9 in the second half. That accuracy never transferred to the rest of Cincinnati’s game.
Cincinnati shot 29 percent (9 of 31) from the floor after halftime. The last time the Bearcats came to town two years ago, it was West Virginia that had the worst shooting night in school history, going 20 percent from the floor in a 62-39 loss.
This time, West Virginia had to overcome another double-digit deficit at home.
Ebanks capped an 11-0 run with a three-point play to put the Mountaineers ahead 56-52 with 11:07 remaining, their first lead since midway through the first half.
Jones’ 3-pointer with 6:48 left put the Mountaineers ahead to stay and his layin with 1:34 left gave West Virginia a 68-62 cushion.
Vaughn’s 3-pointer with 49 seconds left broke Cincinnati’s field-goal drought and cut the deficit to 69-65, but the Bearcats got no closer.
The Mountaineers outrebounded Cincinnati 41-30 after the teams were even at halftime.
Huggins substituted often in the first half trying to find the right combination. Cincinnati made five 3-pointers in the first 11 minutes and, after West Virginia switched from a zone to man-to-man defense, Gates hit a layup and a dunk to cap a 9-0 run and give the Bearcats a 23-16 lead with eight minutes left until halftime.
Huggins emptied his bench after a Steve Toyloy layup pushed Cincinnati’s lead to 37-24. Leading scorer Da’Sean Butler and Jones sat out the final three minutes of the half and watched his teammates come back.
Backup Cam Thoroughman scored five of his career-high seven points after that and West Virginia pulled to 37-33 a minute before halftime.