PLAYER OF THE GAME:
As he goes, so go the Mountaineers, it seems. WVU's best games this season have almost always coincided with games in which the senior guard has found ways to score (and, particularly, when his jump shots have fallen).
On Saturday, Mitchell was on-target with his 3-point shot (he hit four of seven shots from beyond the arc). He played solid defense, earning multiple steals that led to fast-break layups for him (twice getting an "and one" in the process as Mitchell was fouled while scoring).
In short, he was active. And according to head coach Bob Huggins, that was the difference in the level of play from the Savannah, Ga., native.
"I wore him out yesterday because he just didn’t make hard cuts, he didn’t set people up, he just didn’t do the things good players do," Huggins told the Mountaineer Sports Network afterwards. "I thought today, he really wanted the ball. I thought he did a better job using screens. His cuts were so much harder. And he played a lot of minutes ."
West Virginia still needs to find a way to score when Mitchell isn't doing so, as it relied on the senior time and time again to pull it out of bad situations against the Hoyas. In one critical stretch, Mitchell scored nine straight WVU points. In all, he ended up with a game-high 28.
But when Mitchell is playing well, the Mountaineers are a much better team. Saturday's game is just the latest example of that.
His game is often misunderstood, but guys like the senior forward who do everything except the things that show up in box scores are critical to the success of any good team.
Thoroughman did all those little things on Saturday. In the process, he contributed to West Virginia's win in a big way.
It was Thoroughman's screens that freed up Mitchell and Kevin Jones (more on him in a bit) for the jump shots that gave the Mountaineers the offense it needed to keep Georgetown at bay in the second half.
It was his defense that forced two Hoya turnovers in the final minute of play -- both of which were absolutely pivotal.
He was in position to corral the ball when Jason Clark lost control on a curling drive with about 36 seconds left and WVU clinging to a 62-59 lead.
And then, of course, he stepped in the way of Clark's pass to Austin Freeman on Georgetown's next-to-last possession, setting off a chain of events that led to a Hoya turnover with 11 seconds to play.
Thoroughman played a solid game that went far beyond his zero points and three rebounds. That's why he played 22 minutes for the notoriously tough-to-please Huggins despite not being the team's best scorer.
A quick look at the box score wouldn't make anyone think this game was all that much different from the rest of the season for Jones. The junior scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, adding three assists and a block.
It's a very solid, if not spectacular, stat-line. But Jones' performance went far beyond the other games he has played in some ways.
As much as anything, Saturday's game might have helped the Mount Vernon, N.Y., native get some much-needed confidence back.
He got back to his old ways, collecting five offensive rebounds. He hit midrange jump shots, including a critical midrange shot from along the baseline in the final minutes to give his team a six-point lead.
In short, he played like the Kevin Jones of old. And for Bob Huggins, that has to be good news as the Big East grind continues.
Rebounding and defense.
West Virginia got back to what it did best last season: it played defense and it rebounded. And, not coincidentally, it won.
It collected 18 turnovers from Georgetown (to say it "forced" all of those turnovers might be a stretch). It managed to out-rebound an opponent by a significant margin (32-23) -- something that hasn't happened much this season.
It's those fundamentals that characterize most Bob Huggins-coached teams. And it's the lack of those facets of play that has been most befuddling in watching this WVU team play in the first half of the season.
Perhaps the Mountaineers finally found a team that was struggling just as much as they were. Or perhaps they are finally starting to turn a corner and will make some strides between now and the end of the regular season.
That remains to be seen. But at least for this one Saturday, rebounding and defense came back into vogue for West Virginia. And the results were, quite predictably, positive.