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Live from the Arena: West Virginia-Mizzou

2nd Half

That's it. 68-59 final.

It's just about over. 18.3 seconds, WVU, 68-59 The Mountaineers are wrapping it up at the line to advance to the Sweet 16 at the Carrier Dome. Jerry Sullivan's alma mater denied again, continues to hang with heavy hearts as the most succesful program never to make the Final Four -- MH

45.5, WVU, 64-57. It's just about please-drive-home-safely time for Mizzou. Butler just put a dagger in the Tigers' hearts with a put-back, outmuscling Keith Ramsey for a rebound after Cam Thoroughman missed two straight at the line with 1:18 left. -- MH

1:25, WVU, 62-57. Reserve Joe Mazzulla is huge for the Mountaineers with a free throw and a clutch five-footer inside the final two minutes. Tiller's runner in the lane could have cut the gap to two for Mizzou but it missed. Tigers have been outscored at the line, 20-12, and it's the difference right now. -- MH

3:20, WVU, 58-53. Mizzou keeps creeping closer but keeps shooting itself in the foot with missed free throws and errant putbacks. The Tigers have had plenty of chances to build a lead in this one and haven't taken advantage. And when they needed a rebound, as Joe Mazzulla misses a three-pointer, they don't get it. Instead, Ebanks yanks it down and is fouled. He's going to the line when CBS decides we can play again.

7:29: WVU, 54-47. Huggins went wild on Devin Ebanks after he allowed Keith Ramsey to stuff home one of the endless string of Missouri misses. Butler, by the way, is up to 24 points. Missouri had 86 points Friday and that allowed the Tigers to get into their press. Can't do that if you can't score. BIG cheer for the announcement that Cornell is drilling Wisconsin, 76-54 in the final 10 minutes. Guess the committee got their No. 12 seed wrong. Jeesh.  -- MH

11:28, WVU, 47-41. The Tigers continue to miss gimmes from in tight and West Virginia continues to hold on as the "Let's Go/Mountaineers" chant goes up from opposite sides of the building. Missouri cut it to three (44-41) on Michael Dixon's three-pointer but Kevin Jones drilled a trey from the corner 13 seconds later to push the lead back to six. Missouri opened the half 2 for 11 from the field and has yet to overcome that slow start from the field. -- MH

16:08: WVU, 36-29. Missouri coach Mike Anderson sheds the jacket. His team has taken eight shots in its last three possessions and come up empty. Now he needs a timeout.  -- MH

We're ready for tipoff. Some stat lines: It's a tough shooting day for both teams as Mizzou is 10 of 26 from the field and West Virginia is 9 for 28. But the Mountaineers are 8 for 10 at the line and Mizzou is just 1 for 2, not getting the ball inside at all. That's not going to cut it. -- MH

1st Half

Halftime: WVU, 30-25. Missouri is known for its defense, but has not been able to stop WVU's Da'Sean Butler, who had 19 points in the first half. The HSBC Arena record is 37 points and the NCAA Tournament record for Buffalo is 33 points, so Butler is within reach going into the second half. The Mountaineers have done a very good job defensively, especially inside. It has been the difference so far considering they made just 32 percent of their shots (9 of 28) in the first 20 minutes. If they continue keeping Missouri to shoot from the perimeter, they're headed to the Sweet 16. -- BG

2:46, 25-25: Butler has four threes in the game for the Mountaineers but Kim English has answered with a pair for Mizzou, including one from the right of the key with 3:06 left to get the Tigers even. Huggins is not happy with the officiating; when is he ever? There are guys diving on the floor and plenty more physical play than we saw in the opener. The crowd is pretty quiet however. Most Syracuse fans taking it in. Resisting the urge to call it Sabres-quiet. OK, so I just did. -- MH

12:00: WVU, 15-14. Missouri can't press if it doesn't score and the Tigers have scored six quick points. Bob Huggins calls a timeout and does what he does best -- verbally undresses his players in the huddle. He's a beaut. -- MH

14:12: WVU, 15-8. West Virginia is getting terrific ball movement, which is the best way to beat teams that play pressure defense. Butler makes two three early, which forces Mizzou to extend its defense and opens up the inside for three easy baskets. Missouri, in need of adjustments already, calls a timeout. -- BG

17:06: WVU, 8-3. My pregame prediction: Missouri wins by four. -- BG

2:35 p.m.: We're on schedule for a 2:40 tipoff between second-seeded West Virginia and No. 10 Missouri. The winner keeps itself in a New York State of Mind by heading to the Carrier Dome for the East Regional semifinals and a date with the Washington Huskies. Still a pretty good crowd on hand. Certainly some empty seats but a large number of the Syracuse fans have stuck around at least for the start.

---Mike Harrington

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