East Region

In 2010 NCAA basketball tournament, Missouri and West Virginia advance

The road to Indianapolis is paved with dramatic snapshots.
By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 20, 2010

BUFFALO -- In four previous NCAA tournament appearances, Missouri Coach Mike Anderson has thrice navigated past the first round and twice reached the tournament's second weekend. In six previous NCAA tournament appearances, Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell had never advanced past the first round.

Both coaches' tournament tendencies continued in 2010 after 10th-seeded Missouri's 86-78 win over seventh-seeded Clemson in the first round of the East Region. Missouri will play West Virginia on Sunday with a chance to advance to Thursday's region semifinal in Syracuse, N.Y.

"Our teams typically start playing some of their better basketball right around late February, March. And I guess it's March Madness," Anderson said. "I think you build your team up to get to this point. Because to me, this is what you work toward."

In the past three seasons, Clemson (21-11) has been the higher seed and lost in the opening round.

"I think there will probably be a perception by some people," Purnell said when asked if there will be a perception that his team cannot win in March. "I certainly don't subscribe to that. Next year, we'll have a different team. This team is different than last year's team. That's the approach you have to take."

The two teams exhibit similar styles, pressuring the ball the length of the court on defense and running a fast-paced offense. Missouri (23-10) sought to stop Clemson's Trevor Booker, often swarming him with two or three players.

Purnell hoped that Booker would receive more calls from the officials. Booker (11 points, 11 rebounds) had reached the free throw line more than five times per game this season, but he attempted only two free throws on Friday.

"I mean, to be real, I think we were fouling him a lot," said Missouri forward Keith Ramsey, who had 20 points and eight rebounds. "He wasn't getting a lot of calls, but that's part of the game, so he was frustrated."

Missouri outscored Clemson, 47-39, after halftime and withstood every surge in the game's final minutes. Missouri's players often found ways over the top of Clemson's defense, allowing for risky full-court passes that paid dividends.

Clemson's Demontez Stitt hit a three-pointer with 39.8 seconds remaining to cut Missouri's lead to four points. Purnell wanted Clemson to foul when Missouri advanced past half court, but Missouri made another deep pass for an easy basket.

"It felt a lot like practice because we don't have guys in our league pressing us that much," said Missouri guard Kim English, who scored 20 points. "So it was a welcome sight to see a team wanting to speed us up."

-- WEST VIRGINIA 77, MORGAN STATE 50: The worry started to creep into Mountaineers star De'Sean Butler's mind in the opening minutes of second-seeded West Virginia's victory over the 15th-seeded Bears (27-10) in the first round of the East Region.

The Bears built a 10-0 lead over the Big East tournament champions, and the thought of other Big East teams losing on Thursday and the embarrassment of a West Virginia (28-6) loss momentarily filled Butler's mind.

"You can't complain about not being a one seed and then go there and lay an egg the first day," said Butler, referencing the Mountaineers' hope to secure one of the tournament's four No. 1 seeds. "They came out 10-zip. That's embarrassing."

West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins said the slow starts have been a trend this season for his team.

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