West Virginia came in strong to start the first half. Starting point guard Jevon Carter hit three straight 3-pointers as the Mountaineers jumped to a 9-4 lead. He scored all first of their nine points in 5 minutes of play as he set the tone for the team on how things should play out. On the other hand, Missouri had an answer for the Mountaineers’ fast start and stood in pace with their opponent. Quickly after the 9-4 deficit, Tigers’ forward Cullen Vanleer hit a three pointer and it became a championship game from there.
Both teams were struggling shooting from the field early on, and Missouri was still getting many second chances even though West Virginia kept forcing turnovers left and right. Both teams were going at it on every possession, and every defensive stop was cognitive. Even with West Virginia’s vaunted defense coming into fruition, Missouri took the lead with 7:05 left in the first half as they started getting hot from beyond the arc. Missouri starting guard Kassius Robertson had the hot hand with 10 points and was 3-4 from the floor in the first 20 minutes, going 3-3 from three point range. Carter became quiet after the opening minutes, and guard Daxter Miles Jr. picked up the slack for West Virginia to finish the quarter, notching 13 points. As first half of play came to an end, the Tigers went into halftime leading West Virginia by a score of 41-36. Guard Jordan Geist sinked in a three to send them into the locker room fired up in the closing seconds.
In the second half, Missouri fired first, scoring the first points of the quarter. Tigers’ starting forward Jordan Barnett got hot in the second half, and finished with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds. Tigers’ forward Kevin Puryear was also getting some good looks and executed on his shots, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds. Making noise of his own was forward Jontay Porter. He was all over the place, having nine points and nine rebounds, two assists and five blocks. His selflessness helped pushed this team over the boundary as they were displaying a great body of teamwork. Yet, things started to go downhill for the Tigers late in the second half, as Porter was fouled out and West Virginia’s starting two guards caught on fire.
After going 3-3 to start the game, WVU’s Jevon Carter was cold on the floor, going 0-6 until 10:05 left in the second half when he drained a short ranged jumper. Both him and Miles Jr. were struggling, most in part because of forward Sagaba Konate’s presence being missed in the paint. He only had 2 points for the entire game and wasn’t allowed to be effective on the glass as usual. Konate was benched after getting into foul trouble and eventually fouled out, and the Mountaineers did poorly in second chance points, surely in need of his offensive rebounding.
Still, with six minutes left in the quarter, things started to click for West Virginia. In the last five minutes of the game, they went on a 17-2 run and regained the lead in the last minute of play. It was a valiant effort by Carter and Miles Jr., as they combined for 35 points in the second half and led this team to a hard fought tournament win. It was a two man show until the end. Carter finished with 29 points on 8-18 shooting. Miles Jr. finished the game with 26 points on 5-14 shooting and two assists. The put a dagger in the hearts of the Tigers and this is the kind of win they can carry as precedent for the rest of the season.
The Mountaineers finished the tournament as champions with a record of 6-1, as the Tigers come in 2nd place with a record of 5-2.