For all its intricacies and coachspeak, basketball can be so simple. You have to put the ball in the basket. You don't do it, you don't win.
The stat sheet told you all you needed to read about 10th-seeded Missouri's 68-59 loss to West Virginia Sunday in HSBC Arena. The Tigers hit just 20 of 61 from the field overall and 7 of 21 from three-point range. And they were just 12 of 20 at the free-throw line.
The numbers were even more gruesome in the second half, when Missouri had every opportunity to get back into contention but never got even. The Tigers were 10 of 35 after intermission and just 3 of 12 from long distance.
"You have to be able to put the ball in the hole," said coach Mike Anderson. "When you're talking about the higher-seed teams playing against some of the lower seed teams, a lot of things have to go right for you. I thought we came with the right mind-set defensively, getting after it, putting ourself in position to have a chance to win.
"But you have to put the ball in the hole. We had opportunities to do that. And when that didn't take place, it enabled West Virginia to get to the free-throw line. And they made their free throws."
Missouri's field goal percentage of 32.8 was its fourth-lowest in 34 games this season and every starter struggled.
Frontcourt stalwarts Keith Ramsey and Laurence Bowers were 2 of 9 and 3 of 8 from the field, respectively. It was no different for the guards as J.T. Tiller (2 of 9), Zaire Taylor (3 of 10) and Kim English (4 of 12) all had sub-par games.
One sequence early in the second half told the Tigers' tale. Trailing, 31-29, and looking at a chance to tie or perhaps take its first lead of the game, Missouri had six shots over consecutive possessions and Bowers even missed two free throws. No points and the Tigers never caught up.
"We had some layups that we normally cash in on and just didn't," Anderson said. "When you don't do that, you don't make it happen. You don't get the winning formula if you don't cash in those opportunities. But it wasn't because of lack of effort. . . . I don't think these guys lost. I think they just ran out of time."
At 29-6, West Virginia has tied its school record for victories set in its 1959 national championship season led by legendary guard Jerry West.
The Mountaineers improved to 10-0 in neutral-site games this season and have cracked the Sweet 16 five times in their last six NCAA appearances.
Missouri's 54 wins the last two years represent the second-best stretch in school history.
In the bad timing award, a reporter asked Anderson after the game if he cared to comment on reports he's in line for the job at Auburn. Minnesota's Tubby Smith has been reported to be a front-runner, with Anderson a fallback candidate. Anderson is a popular figure in the South from his days at UAB.
"I guess that's you talking -- I don't know anything about speculation," Anderson said. "We just got finished up with the NCAA Tournament. That's all I'm talking about. I'm excited about what's taking place at the University of Missouri."
NCAA officials got back in the good graces of the national media by refunding charges for Internet access the last three days. Service was rendered inoperable much of Friday, in part by a photographer whose credential was rescinded because he set up his own wireless network in violation of NCAA rules and crashed the main system.
Thinking about the NCAA's next trip here? It will be no earlier than 2014. All subregionals and regionals have been awarded through 2013.