Bryant's free throws with 1 second left lift West Virginia to upset
Saturday, March 5, 2011; 2:53 PM
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Truck Bryant sank two free throws with 1 second left to lift West Virginia to a 72-70 win over No. 11 Louisville in their Big East regular-season finale Saturday.
West Virginia (20-10, 11-7 Big East) clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The Mountaineers earned their fourth consecutive 20-win season under coach Bob Huggins and the seventh straight overall.
Kevin Jones had a career-high 25 points and 16 rebounds - his third straight double-double - for the Mountaineers. John Flowers had 12 points and 12 rebounds while Bryant finished with 10 points.
West Virginia beat a ranked team for the fifth time this season and will take a three-game winning streak into the conference tournament.
Kyle Kuric scored 21 points for Louisville (23-8, 12-6), which saw its four-game winning streak snapped. Preston Knowles added 15 points and Chris Smith scored 14.
Louisville, picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll, already had clinched the No. 3 seed with a double bye into Thursday's Big East quarterfinals and didn't have anything on the line Saturday.
Both games between the teams this season were decided in the final seconds.
On Jan. 26, Louisville came back from 11 points down to beat West Virginia 55-54 at home on Peyton Siva's layup with 4.5 seconds left. West Virginia's Casey Mitchell missed that game while serving a three-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Mitchell, West Virginia's leading scorer at 14.4 points per game off the bench, wasn't a factor this time until he hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, then made another with 10 seconds left to tie the game at 70-70.
After Knowles missed a 3-point try, Bryant got the rebound, was fouled by Knowles and made the winning free throws.
It marked the second straight game that Bryant decided the outcome from the line. He made seven free throws over the final 1:19 in a 65-56 win over No. 16 Connecticut on Wednesday.
Neither team shot well in a physical first half that Louisville led most of the way. But the Mountaineers dominated the glass, were effective from the line and came from seven points down to tie it 18-18 on two free throws by Cam Thoroughman with seven minutes left until halftime.
Thoroughman's jumper at the halftime buzzer put the Mountaineers ahead 32-30.
West Virginia led by as many as eight points early in the second half before Louisville started taking advantage of turnovers.
Knowles, held to one point in the first half, got going with a pair of layups and Kuric hit a 3-pointer with 8:26 left to give Louisville its first lead of the second half, 54-53.
Louisville twice extended the lead to five points on three occasions down the stretch before Mitchell and Bryant came to the Mountaineers' rescue.