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West Virginia escapes Hurley, Buffalo

Mar 21, 2015 - 12:17 AM Columbus, OH ( - Devin Williams scored 17 points, Juwan Staten had 15 and West Virginia escaped with a 68-62 win over Bobby Hurley and Buffalo in an NCAA Tournament second-round game on Friday.

Coached by the former Duke star Hurley, Buffalo played its first ever NCAA Tournament game and tied the score at 62-62 on Xavier Ford's 3-pointer with 2:42 left.

But West Virginia scored the last six points, including a shot clock-beating 3 by Tarik Phillip that gave the fifth-seeded Mountaineers a 67-62 lead with 28.4 seconds left.

"Probably the only one who wanted Tarik to shoot it was Tarik," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of Phillip, not known as a 3-pointer shooter. "He had to, it was the end of the clock. But he relishes that kind of moment. And we're fortunate to have a couple of guys that do."

West Virginia (24-9) moved into the third round of the Midwest Region and will face fourth-seeded Maryland on Sunday.

Ford led 12th-seeded Buffalo (23-10) with 16 points, Shannon Evans scored 15 and Justin Moss had 13.

"You've got to credit West Virginia, they're a great team and I'm just proud of my guys," said Ford. "We all went out here and battled and showed that we can compete with anybody."

The Bulls entered the tournament on an eight-game winning streak, including a victory over Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference title game.

Hurley took them to the tournament in his second year as their coach. As a point guard, he led Duke to back-to-back national championships in the 1990s and still ranks as the NCAA's all-time leader in assists.

No stranger to tough competition, Hurley coached his Bulls against Kentucky and Wisconsin during the regular season. Both teams are expected to make runs in the tournament, but Hurley said the moral victories of competing against the national powerhouses faded long ago.

He wanted to beat West Virginia.

"It's a hard loss, because we didn't come in here satisfied being the champion of our league," Hurley said. "We felt we had a team that could win games in the tournament. It didn't play out that way.

"We were a couple of possessions here or there from that happening. But ultimately I'm excited about the enthusiasm about our program and what we're doing and the excitement that Buffalo had to back us here. It felt great. And it's something to build on with so many returning players coming back."

The Bulls made a run, cutting a 10-point halftime deficit to three in just 90 seconds and later climbing out of a nine-point hole with 6 1/2 minutes left.

Ford, a senior, buried two 3-pointers in a 12-3 run, including the tying shot from the left wing. The Bulls had another chance to tie the score down 64-62 but Moss missed a tough layup off an inbounds pass with 1:40 remaining.

The Mountaineers gained possession in a scrum after a miss at the other end and Phillip knocked down his clutch 3 from the left side. The sophomore guard was just 5-for-26 on 3-pointers this season before making the shot.

"The previous possessions I got my shot blocked, so I was just thinking to get it up," said Phillip. "When (Staten) found me, I just thought, get it up on the rim."

West Virginia is in the tournament for the first time since 2012 and won a game for the first time since 2011, giving the Big 12 another lift after the conference went 0-3 on Thursday. Big 12 rival Kansas also won Friday.

The Mountaineers scored the first seven points of the game and had a 13-point lead after just 8 1/2 minutes. Buffalo used an 11-2 run later in the first half to trim its deficit to three, but the Mountaineers scored the final seven points of the half to make it 36-26 at the break.

Game Notes

Daxter Miles Jr. scored 10 points for West Virginia, which shot 44.9 percent in the game ... Buffalo shot 45.5 percent ... The teams played for the third time. They split the first two meetings, a Buffalo win at home on Feb. 21, 1918, and a West Virginia win on Dec. 11, 1991, in Morgantown.