WVU not celebrating yet
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia forward John Flowers jogged off the court Sunday at HSBC Arena after a 68-59 victory over Missouri advanced the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
He raised four fingers into the air.
“Four more,” he yelled to the fans around him as he walked toward the tunnel.
Four games stand between West Virginia and its first national title.
It’s been a running motto for the team since it won the Big East Tournament. After winning that title, senior forward Wellington Smith yelled out “six more.”
“This is business more than anything because I want to win,” West Virginia senior forward Da’Sean Butler said after defeating Missouri. “I’m happy to win this game, and I will celebrate it lightly. But we need to win the next one.”
The atmosphere in the locker room after the Missouri game was drastically different than the Mountaineers’ previous Sweet 16 appearance in 2008, junior forward Cam Thoroughman said.
In 2008, the Mountaineers advanced to the Sweet 16 as a No. 7 seed, defeating No. 2 seed Duke, 73-67, in Washington.
After that game, point guard Joe Mazzulla led an on-court celebration that was captured by CBS cameras, and the locker room was jubilant.
“It’s totally different,” Thoroughman said. “We were screaming and yelling. We just upset the two-seed.”
On Sunday, all that could be heard from the Mountaineers’ locker room was a brief mass clap and a few hoots and hollers. That was it.
“They’re going to enjoy it, but they have higher aspirations,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “They want to do more; that’s good.”
Mazzulla said the team didn’t celebrate much after the Missouri win because it’s “on a mission.”
“If we started celebrating after this one, it would be like we were settling for mediocrity,” the junior point guard said.
The talk in the locker room quickly went from Missouri’s “fastest 40 minutes of basketball” to focusing on Washington. The Mountaineers face the Huskies on Thursday at 7:27 p.m. in Syracuse, N.Y.
“They’re on a roll,” Thoroughman said. “Everybody talked about how the Pac-10 wasn’t any good, so they’re out to prove something. They’ll be ready to play.”
Washington is one of the hottest teams in the NCAA Tournament. The 11th-seeded Huskies have won nine consecutive games, including an 82-64 blowout of New Mexico in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“They’re going to see a pretty good defensive team,” Huggins said of Washington. “It comes down to, do we defend them better than they score?”