(6) West Virginia 71

(22-11, 11-5 Big East)

(2) Texas 74

(30-6, 13-4 Big 12)

    9:40 PM ET, March 23, 2006

    Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia

    1 2 T
    #6WVU 27 4471
    #2TEX 39 3574

    Top Performers

    West Virginia: M. Gansey 18 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast

    Texas: L. Aldridge 26 Pts, 13 Reb, 2 Ast

    Paulino's buzzer-beater sinks WVU, lifts Texas to Elite Eight

    ATLANTA (AP) -- When Texas needed a 3-point shot, it turned to the right shooter.

    Kenton Paulino, a senior who ranks second in school history in career 3-point percentage, hit a 3-pointer as time expired Thursday night and Texas outlasted West Virginia 74-71 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Paulino's shot saved Texas from an overtime period after Kevin Pittsnogle's fifth 3-pointer for West Virginia tied it with 5 seconds left.

    Paulino took a pass from A.J. Abrams before launching his winner just before time expired. Officials quickly huddled to confirm Paulino's shot was good.

    "The whole thing was to get it down the floor and see what happens," Paulino said, adding he had specific instructions from coach Rick Barnes.

    "Coach said if they fake the screen, which they did, get out quick and just run it down the floor and start up. So that's what I did, I just ran down the floor. A.J. got the ball to me and I was ready to go."

    The senior said he had never made a similar shot, though he has made 40.9 percent of his career 3-pointers. He led the team by making 41.6 percent of his 3-pointers this season, but in Thursday night's game, Texas was not the team depending on 3-pointers.

    West Virginia, second in the nation in 3-pointers made this season, made 15 of 33 3-point shots in the game. Texas was 4-for-19 from 3-point range.

    "We thought we had a pretty good shot to go into overtime," Pittsnogle said. "[Paulino] just tossed it up and it went in."

    LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points for second-seeded Texas (30-6), and Pittsnogle led the sixth-seeded Mountaineers (22-11) with 19.

    Texas beat West Virginia 76-75 on Nov. 21 and couldn't avoid another close finish, even after leading 39-27 at halftime.

    "I was worried coming in because it was a team we know," Barnes said. "I am not sure what happened on that last play because we were switching everything. It was a great day. Wow!"

    Barnes said he didn't call a timeout after Pittsnogle's 3 because he already had given his team a plan.

    "We told them ... if they score, we've got to get it back and run it at them," Barnes said. "We got as good a look as we could probably get."

    Aldridge called Paulino's shot "amazing."

    "That shot was awesome," Aldridge said. "He caught it and shot it and it went in. It is just amazing right now."

    West Virginia coach John Beilein said 5 seconds probably was too much to leave for Texas to answer Pittsnogle's shot.

    "With 5 seconds it's just very hard to match their quickness," Beilein said.

    Texas is in the round of eight for the first time since 2003, when it advanced to the Final Four. The Longhorns will play LSU on Saturday in the Atlanta Regional final. LSU beat top-seed Duke 62-54 earlier Thursday.

    West Virginia was denied a second straight appearance in the round of eight.

    The Mountaineers rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to briefly take the lead, but the Longhorns -- led by the inside play of Aldridge -- answered the challenge.

    "We felt good about the first half, but we know how West Virginia shoots the ball," Paulino said.

    With 1:29 left to play, Pittsnogle was called for a foul on Aldridge, though it was Pittsnogle who came away from the contact with a bloody nose.

    Aldridge made one of two free throws for a 68-65 lead, and Abrams added two free throws with 26.9 seconds left to make it 70-65.

    Mike Gansey, who had 18 points for West Virginia, hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to cut it to 70-68.

    A free throw by Aldridge pushed the lead to 71-68, setting the stage for the two late 3-pointers.

    Relying almost completely on its 3-point shooting, West Virginia trailed 39-27 at halftime. All of its points came on 3-pointers and free throws until, with only 6 seconds left in the half, J.D. Collins scored on a short jumper for the Mountaineers' first 2-point shot.

    "We thought we were a better team than what we showed in the first half," Gansey said.

    When Texas began anticipating West Virginia would continue to rely on 3-pointers, the Mountaineers quickly closed the deficit by scoring on cuts to the basket.

    West Virginia scored eight points in the first minute of the second half and trailed 40-37 following a rare inside basket by Pittsnogle 4 minutes into the half.

    A 3-pointer by Pittsnogle with 8:14 left pulled West Virginia even at 58, and the Mountaineers took a 61-58 lead on a 3-pointer by Gansey less than a minute later.

    Texas answered with seven straight points.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 71 74
    FG Made-Attempted 25-55 (.455) 28-58 (.483)
    3P Made-Attempted 15-33 (.455) 4-19 (.211)
    FT Made-Attempted 6-8 (.750) 14-20 (.700)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 12 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 3 14


    » Mar 23, 2006 @TEX 74, WVU 71Recap