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West Virginia holds on

December 27, 2009

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— All No. 6 West Virginia had to do to remain undefeated was withstand a miraculous close to regulation by Seton Hall and another big scoring game by Jeremy Hazell.

The Mountaineers blew a 10-point lead with less than a minute to play in regulation Saturday, then managed to win, 90-84 in the Big East opener for both teams despite a career-high 41 points by Hazell.

“It’s a huge concern,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of losing the late lead. “Our two guys missed the front ends of 1-and-1. If we make those, then it really doesn’t matter.”

At least the Mountaineers (10-0), one of six remaining unbeatens in Div. I, were able to overcome their missed free throws.

Seton Hall (9-2) couldn’t, finishing 16-of-33 from the line, including going 8-of-20 from there after halftime.

“The free throws were a disaster,” Pirates coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “You cannot miss 17 free throws when you play the No. 6 team in the country in your building with a chance to win.”

Devin Ebanks had 22 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists for West Virginia, Da’Sean Butler had 21 points and six assists, and Kevin Jones added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Mountaineers.

The three combined for all 13 of West Virginia’s points in the overtime.

Butler hit a three-pointer 34 seconds into the extra period to give West Virginia the lead for good. The biggest plays of the overtime, though, belonged to Jones.

Ebanks missed a jumper as the shot clock wound down with 56 seconds to play, and Jones grabbed the rebound. With 32 seconds left, Jones hit a three to give West Virginia an 87-80 lead, and the Pirates didn’t get closer than six points the rest of the way.

“We’re leading, and we’re going to run clock,” Huggins said. “KJ rebounds it, and he’s smart enough to kick it out and run some more clock, and then he hits a huge three for us. We were first lucky to get the rebound and smart enough that he didn’t try to score.”

Ebanks was the only player on either team to play all 45 minutes, and the 6-foot-9 sophomore spent almost the whole game running the point, and he didn’t turn the ball over once.

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