Jevon Carter’s solid all-around effort helped pace No. 5 seed West Virginia to a 85-68 win over No. 12 Murray State in the East Region on Friday afternoon.
The senior guard and NBCSports.com third-team All-American finished with 21 points, eight assists and six steals as his stellar play on both ends of the floor was a huge factor for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia (25-10) also had solid games from Teddy Allen (16 points) Sagaba Konate (14 points) and Esa Ahmad (12 points) as they shot 51 percent (32-for-62) from the field.
Murray State (26-6) had a monster performance from senior big man Terrell Miller Jr., as he finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds. But with Miller battling second-half foul trouble and Murray State star guard Jonathan Stark struggling for offensive consistency, the Racers couldn’t gain traction after falling behind early.
After averaging 21 points per game in each of the past two seasons, Stark was held to only nine points on 1-for-12 shooting on Friday. Carter and the Mountaineer defense never left him alone. Even with West Virginia going to its usual full-court trap, they paid special attention to Stark to make sure he never got loose for any clean looks.
West Virginia moves on to play No. 13 seed Marshall in the second round in East Region after the Thundering Herd pulled off an upset over No. 4 seed Wichita State earlier on Friday. The in-state rivals haven’t played for the past two regular seasons as things have been publicly testy between Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins and Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni.
It will be fascinating to see if the bad blood and intensity between the two coaches spills to the players on the floor. The matchup between Carter and Marshall junior guard Jon Elmore should also be one of the best to watch in the 2018 NCAA tournament. Elmore is coming off of a 27-point performance in the win over the Shockers as he’ll have to score against Carter, arguably the nation’s best on-the-ball perimeter defender.
We saw what West Virginia and Carter just did to a 20-point scorer in Stark on Friday as they’ll try to limit Elmore on Sunday.