West Virginia basketball: Maryland toughest hurdle yet?


West Virginia will meet Maryland in the third round of the NCAA Tournament after narrowly defeating Buffalo, 68-62 in the second round of the big dance.

Maryland is also coming off a slim-margin, 65-63 win versus Valparaiso in the second round of the tournament.

With fewer than two minutes left in regulation, Maryland’s Jake Layman missed a 3-pointer, but Dez Wells was able to clean it up and put the ball in the hoop inside the lane.

After a foul shot, Maryland went up three with less than 10 second remaining, Valparaiso was unable to get a shot off in the corner allowing the Terps to hang on for the win.

For the Mountaineers — they never allowed Buffalo to lead, but the Bulls did manage to tie the game a 62 with 2:24 remaining in the game. A 3-pointer from Xavier Ford knotted the game, but West Virginia caught a break after Justin Moss missed an open layup for the lead.

Mar 20, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Tarik Phillip (12) shoots while guard by Buffalo Bulls guard Rodell Wigginton (20) in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. West Virginia won 68-62. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Tarik Phillip then nailed a clutch, 3-pointer to secure West Virginia’s win.

“The previous possessions I got my shot blocked, so I was just thinking to get it up,” said Phillip following the game. “When he found me, I just though, get it up on the rim.”

West Virginia and Maryland have shared common opponents over the course of the season.

Both team’s have faced VMI, Monmouth, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

West Virginia went 4-2 in those games, while Maryland went 4-0.

Maryland is led by Melo Tremble who is averaging 16.3 points per game. Behind him is Dez Wells, who is averaging 15.3 points per contest.

On the season, Maryland is shooting 43 percent from the field, 37 percent from behind the 3-point line and 75 percent from the free throw line.

Against Valparaiso, Maryland had three different players score in double digits. Trimble, Wells and Jared Nickens all scored 14 points.

Maryland has a plethora of guys who can handle the ball and it makes them dangerous in terms of driving the lane and dishing the rock off.

“Like I said, we’ve got to make sure that Trimble doesn’t have the ball,” said Gary Browne. “They can all handle the ball, but I don’t feel like they would be able to handle the ball with our pressure.”

The Mountaineers’ pressure caused Buffalo many problems in that game’s first half. The Bulls turned the ball over 12 times and West Virginia capitalized each time.

West Virginia was led by Devin Williams against the Bulls. Williams scored 17 points, while Juwan Staten had 15 and Daxter Miles Jr. contributed with 10.

“It’s pretty much what he’s done all year,” said head coach Bob Huggins following the game. “I think the bigger the situation, the tighter the game, the better Devin plays.”

The stage has only gotten bigger for Williams and company. West Virginia will have the opportunity to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, a round that nobody thought the Mountaineers could land.

West Virginia and Maryland will tip-off at 8:40 p.m. from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. The game will broadcast live on TNT.