SAN DIEGO–Jevon Carter had 21 points and eight assists as fifth-seeded West Virginia knocked off No. 12 Murray State 85-68 on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at Viejas Arena.
The Mountaineers (25-10) got much needed contribution from members of their bench. Teddy Allen scored 16 points while Logan Routt had seven and four rebounds.
Sagaba Konate had 14 points and Esa Ahmad chipped in 12.
WVU ended the Racers (26-6) 13-game winning streak, which was the second longest in the nation.
Terrell Miller Jr. shined in Murray State’s loss. He had 27 points and 17 rebounds. Ja Morant tallied 14 points.
“Thanks to my teammates,” Miller said about his performance. “They did a good job getting me the ball and they got me the ball in spots where they know I could hit shots and our guards did a great job of finding me on time s giving me the threes that I knew I could knock down.”
The Mountaineers forced 16 turnovers and had nine steals. WVU’s defense held Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year Jonathan Stark to just nine points on 1-of-12 shooting from the field.
“Our main focus was to stop him and make other guys beat us and we just did an unbelievable job of team defense,” Carter said.
The Racers won the battle on the boards by a margin of 36-33.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 43-29 lead on Carter’s free throw with 18:54 remaining. But Miller’s hot hand would help pull Murray State rally.
Shaq Buchanan’s layup cut the Racers deficit to five, 39-44, with 14:41 to play. However, Carter and WVU turned it up to pull away.
Carter stole the ball from Stark and then dished it to Routt, who finished with a breakaway dunk to push the Mountaineers ahead 58-45 with 11:58 left.
Murray State was unable to get any closer than 11 the rest of the game.
WVU shot 52 percent from the floor, 36 percent from beyond the arc and 71 percent from the charity stripe.
The Racers shot 41 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent from the line.
The Mountaineers have won at least 25 games for a fourth straight season.
WVU will square off against in-state rival Marshall on Sunday for a chance to advance to the Sweet 16.
Cover Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports