Men’s Big East Notebook

West Virginia’s defense let the Mountaineers down against Duke Saturday night in what was one of the easier victories for the Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament.

Jon Scheyer scored 23 points to lift Duke to a 78-57 victory, setting up a final against Butler – a classic matchup of big vs. little, with the national title on the line.

The victory was a wire-to-wire pull away against a West Virginia team coached by alum Bob Huggins, who led the Mountaineers on a 10-game winning streak that included the Big East tournament title and ended with West Virginia’s first Final Four appearance since 1959.

Huggins returned to West Virginia to bring an elusive title back home to a state that loves its flagship school like few others, as evidenced by the school’s rabid football and basketball fan base.

Butler’s departure deflates Mountaineers

Any chance of a comeback ended with 8:59 remaining, when Mountaineers star Da’Sean Butler twisted his left knee, and, to add insult to injury, got called for a charge as he crumpled to the ground.

Butler didn’t return – x-rays showed a torn ACL for the senior guard – and finished his college career with just 10 points.  He was held to a mere basket in the first half while the Blue Devils were building their lead to as many as 13.

Wellington Smith led the Mountaineers with 12 points.

“We won this game as a team,” Duke forward Kyle Singler said to ESPN. “It wasn’t just on my shoulders, or (Scheyer’s) or (Smith’s). We won this game from all side contributing.”

Singler scored 21 points for the Blue Devils and Smith added 19 points and six assists, a pair of performances that, added to Scheyer’s, showed exactly how good Duke can be when all of the “Big 3” are playing well on the same night.

On Saturday, Duke showed what it can be like when the shots are dropping. Shredding West Virginia’s oft-praised 1-3-1 zone, the Blue Devils made 52.7 percent of their shots.

Not surprisingly, West Virginia had few answers. Joe Mazzulla, who scored a career-high 17 points to lift the Mountaineers to their upset over Kentucky in the East Regional, finished with only four in this one.

Player of the week

Wellington Smith, West Virginia, F, Sr.

Smith, playing in his final game as a collegiate athlete, at least tried to keep the Mountaineers in the game, scoring 12 points, chipping in five rebounds and dishing out four assists in an otherwise weak overall performance for West Virginia.

Points per game: 6.6

Rebounds per game: 4.1

Assists per game: 1.3

Field goal percentage: 45.7

Free throw percentage: 60

3 point percentage: 35.5