Writer: Stewart Mandel
Game: Duke-West Virginia
Post time: 3:29 p.m., Saturday
WASHINGTON D.C. -- During the first half of Saturday's Duke-West Virginia second-round matchup, the Mountaineers seemed to be duplicating Belmont's game plan from two nights ago to a T.
Bob Huggins did not start 7-foot center Jamie Smalligan, intentionally going with a smaller lineup, and West Virginia immediately began doing exactly what the 15th-seeded Bruins did so often Thursday night: Drive the lane. It worked too -- time and again, the Mountaineers successfully penetrated the Blue Devils' defenders. The problem: They missed a bevy of easy lay-up opportunities and quickly fell behind 18-10 before star Joe Alexander started heating up.
With the exception of a couple Greg Paulus three-pointers early, however, Duke has been getting most of its points in the paint as well, with Jon Scheyer especially impressive on several drives to the hole. Overall, Duke is playing much better on both ends of the court than it did against Belmont, while West Virginia seems to be playing rattled. The Blue Devils' lead is just 34-29 at the break but it certainly feels like a lot more.