Three No. 5 seeds have played and all three have advanced as the trendy No. 12 over 5 upset has yet to happen in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Many pegged No. 12 Buffalo as a potential bracket buster, but No. 5 West Virginia was able to control the game and hold off a late-game comeback, advancing to the Round of 32 with a 68-62 win on Friday afternoon.
The Mountaineers led wire-to-wire, including a few double-digit leads, but the Bulls kept hanging around throughout the afternoon despite struggling against West Virginia’s defense. Finally, the Bulls attacked in the form of an 11-2 run with less than six minutes to play in regulation. Xavier Ford bookended the run with a pair of 3-pointers, tying the game at 62-62.
An unfortunate sequence followed for Bobby Hurley and Co. With a little over two minutes remaining, West Virginia recaptured the lead with a pair of free throws from Devin Williams. Justin Moss was called for a foul, fighting for position in the post. Certainly, that play will be talked about as a controversial call late in a tie game. On the ensuing possession, Moss got away with a foul as Williams was thrown to the floor. Moss, who made headlines earlier this year for a dunk over Willie Cauley-Stein, went for an up-and-under, but couldn’t convert on the lay-in.
Williams, found himself on the floor again moments later, although, this one helped secure the win for the Mountaineers. With a 1:02 remaining, Williams, who sprained his ankle earlier in the half, dove for the loose ball off a miss, calling timeout before the officials called a tie up. That timeout helped set up a Tarik Phillip 3-pointer, set up by Juwan Staten.
Phillip, a 20 percent 3-point shooter, hit his sixth triple of the season to put 67-62 with less than 30 seconds to play.
HIGHLIGHT: West Virginia was in trouble until THIS happened. http://t.co/IGsXZvx1Xs
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 20, 2015
Williams led all scorers with 17 points and nine rebounds. Staten had 15 points and seven assists in his first game since Feb. 24. Ford had 16 points for Buffalo.
West Virginia plays the winner of No. 4 Maryland and No. 13 Valparaiso.