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West Virginia’s win narrows South Florida’s at-large hopes

Kevin Jones

West Virginia forward Kevin Jones (5) raises his arms as the clock runs down during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Florida Saturday March 3, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. West Virginia defeated South Florida 50-44. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

AP

West Virginia threw a kink into South Florida’s NCAA tournament plans Saturday by boosting its own hopes for an at-large bid.

That’s what happens this time of year.

Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant scored 34 of the Mountaineers’ points in 50-44 victory. It marked the first time Jan. 21 that West Virginia (19-12, 9-9 in Big East) has won back-to-back games and was by far their biggest victory in more than a month. It needs a win or two in the Big East tournament next week to cement its hopes for an at-large bid, though.

It needs to find offense from sources other than Jones and Bryant, too. Jones was 6 of 18 from the field and made the Mountaineers’ only two 3-pointers vs. the Bulls. Jones’ shot was off, but found ways to get to the free-throw line.

Could be worse, though. Could have South Florida’s offense.

Three of the last four games, the Bulls (19-12, 12-6) haven’t broken 50. Defense is their strength – and the primary reason why it won a school-best 12 league games – but even in Wednesday’s win against Louisville, the offense had serious issues.

They’re in decent shape for an at-large bid, but one win in the Big East tourney might be needed. And it would be nice to have the offense show up and make it easier.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.