On an afternoon to remember, Truck Bryant played a game to forget.
The outcome for the West Virginia University Mountaineers was as they would like it, winning in overtime, 77-74, against a Cincinnati team that has won this very same game over and over again, time after time on the road in the Big East.
They had come to the Coliseum riding an unheard-of streak of seven consecutive Big East road victories, most of them squeezed out at the very end, and nearly did it again, until freshman Gary Browne thrust a dagger into the Bearcats’ heart with a 3-pointer at the close of regulation.
But more amazing than Browne’s 3 was the fact that the Mountaineers were playing most of the game four against five, considering the struggles the normally reliable and vibrant Bryant was having.
If you are squeamish, you might want to turn your head or even leave the room when we report this. Bryant took 16 shots and made two of them. That would be 2 of 16 from the field. Two!
And from 3-point range?
He made as many 3s as did John Flowers, who was sitting in the student section, his body painted pre-game by the students.
That would be zero.
It was a dismal shooting performance, one bad enough for a member of the fourth estate to ask him if, after missing the first two, he knew it would be a bad day.
Bryant looked at him quizzically and responded:
“Two? Tonight, the first seven didn’t go,” he said. “If the first two don’t go, that’s cool. But the first seven don’t go? It’s gonna be a long night. I had looks. I was still trying to hit them. I’m not going to give up. I’ve been making shots, so I’m going to keep shooting them.”
Bryant was coming off a 22-point effort against Marshall, but there were indications that something was amiss, for he made only 7 of 20. And that was a good day compared to what transpired against Cincinnati.
In fact, including the Cincinnati game, Bryant’s last four outings have seen him hit 16 of 61 field goals, 26.2 percent, with six 3s in 30 tries, 20 percent.
Which may be why, following the game, Coach Bob Huggins offered this bit of advice:
“Take the rest of the day off and take tomorrow off. Come shoot some free throws if you want. Don’t get a workout in.”
He then explained why.
“He and K.J. (Kevin Jones) play a lot of minutes and they really need to take a little bit of time off. We’ll get them back in on Monday and let them shoot. It’s hard to make shots when you don’t have legs. K.J. said he was tired yesterday, but apparently he was not tired today.”
Not at all, considering he hit 11 of 15 shots, two of two from 3, for 26 points while hauling in 13 rebounds.
It wasn’t only shooting pains that Bryant was suffering. His defense lagged and he at times looked like a Clemson receiver dropping passes.
At 1:33 left in regulation, Cashmere Wright drove past Bryant to hit a crucial basket.
“It was almost my fault. I almost blew the game!” Bryant said. “Cashmere Wright drove to the basket. I thought I heard a whistle. It must have come from the student section, but I thought it was the ref’s whistle and I let him go for a layup.”
That was shaky enough, but then they came toward the end of regulation, the score tied on a 3-point basket by Browne. Cincinnati had missed a chance to win and Bryant was breaking down the court as Keaton Miles hit him with a pass the likes of which Geno Smith would have been proud.
Bryant had the ball slip through his fingers, and next thing you know there’s a scrum around midcourt, players in a tangle, the clock ticking down to 2.1 seconds and officials trying to figure out what is going on, along with the players, the coaches and a sellout crowd of 14,070.
“I fumbled it, lost it, all I was thinking was getting the ball back because I knew the next jump ball was ours. K.J. almost called a timeout but I said, ‘No, no, we don’t have any left. We have no more,’” Bryant said.
Play was stopped. John Kahill looked, called a jump ball, then there were huddles of officials, huddles between officials and coaches, huddles at the scorer’s table to watch the tape, then at the TV table to watch that video.
The decision? Time had expired and overtime would be played.
West Virginia had survived and would do so in the overtime period, WVU just taking control and hanging on for the victory.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.
On an afternoon to remember, Truck Bryant played a game to forget.
- WVU Sports
HERTZEL COLUMN: Flying WV logo draws attention outside country
Sometimes you hit a nerve, as we did a while back when we wrote about the wide reach of West Virginia University’s flying WV logo.
It has meant a lot to a lot of people.
Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin suspended four games
Bruce Irvin, one of only two West Virginia University defensive linemen ever to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, will miss the first four games of the 2014 National Football League season because of a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs.
WVU falls to Oklahoma State, 5-0
The West Virginia University baseball dropped its fifth consecutive game with a 5-0 loss to No. 16 Oklahoma State on Friday evening at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Reaves rejoins Carey as an assistant coach
Mike Carey has run through a lot of assistant basketball coaches during his time at West Virginia University, so it comes as no surprise that he has started repeating assistants.
Carey announced on Friday that Sharrona Reaves has returned as an assistant on his West Virginia staff.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Opportunity to see birth of greatness
Sometimes things happen and the significance of them isn’t fully grasped immediately. So it is with the approval of the TIFF financing for a baseball stadium just off I-79 here in Morgantown.
Obviously, this a boon for the West Virginia University baseball program of Randy Mazey, which gains instant creditability.
Musgrave ranks among top pitchers in college baseball
West Virginia University’s redshirt sophomore left-hander Harrison Musgrave’s spectacular season has reached the pinnacle of the heights a collegiate pitcher can attain as he has been named a finalist for the College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year Award.
FURFARI COLUMN: Crutchfield ‘miracle man’ at West Liberty
Jim Crutchfield, who learned the value of “aggressive defense” in basketball as a player at the old Roosevelt-Wilson High School in Clarksburg, continues to parlay that play phase with others to lead the nation in scoring as well as achieve smashing success as an NCAA Division II head coach.
WVU drops opener at Oklahoma State
The West Virginia University baseball team was unable to overcome an early deficit and fell 7-4 in game one against No. 16 Oklahoma State on Thursday evening at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Musgrave may be rested against OSU
It’s been a fun ride for West Virginia University baseball this season, coming out of nowhere to reach the final weekend with a chance to win the regular-season Big 12 championship.
But coach Randy Mazey is not allowing the Mountaineers to get carried away with that thought.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU Tier 3 bidding goals are ambitious
They are re-opening the bidding at West Virginia University’s athletic department for Tier 3 media rights, but judging by the vision they have shown in putting it together, this is becoming something as ambitious, if not profitable, as the national television deals in which they have a stake.
- More WVU Sports Headlines
- HERTZEL COLUMN: Flying WV logo draws attention outside country