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WVU seeks NCAA breakthrough vs. LSU

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm •  Published: March 24, 2014
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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — West Virginia coach Mike Carey would like to think the Mountaineers are due for a second-round victory in the NCAA tournament.

The fact that the Mountaineers have arguably their best team in school history should help when WVU (30-4), seeded second in the Louisville region, takes on seventh-seeded LSU (20-12) on Tuesday night.

"My philosophy is, if you can get to that point, eventually, hopefully, you win one," Carey said before practice Monday. "If you keep knocking on the door, hopefully it's going to open up for you a little bit. Our teams have done a great job to get to this point and we need to take the next step. I said that before the year started."

The Mountaineers have lost all seven second-round games in program history. Five of those losses have come in the previous seven seasons, starting with a loss to LSU's 2007 Final Four team.

This season, WVU set a school record for victories, won the Big 12 regular-season title, and narrowly lost to Baylor (74-71) in the Big 12 tournament championship. It has its highest tournament seeding ever.

On Sunday, the Mountaineers built a large lead, withstood a desperate comeback attempt by No. 15 seed Albany, and then pulled away again for a comfortable 76-61 victory. That set up what at first glance looks like a favorable second-round matchup with the Lady Tigers, who entered the tournament having lost eight of 10 games.

But LSU, which has the benefit of being one of the hosts for the first two rounds, looked like a team transformed in its 98-78 victory over No. 10 seed Georgia Tech in the first round.

Senior Theresa Plaisance said the urgency that the NCAA tournament provides helped LSU, which labored through a tough Southeastern Conference slate, finally play to its true potential.

"You know, it's pulling at my heart that one day I'm going to have to hang up my jersey," Plaisance said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to prolong that. I know the (other) seniors feel the same way."

Here are five things to know about the LSU-WVU matchup:

HOME ADVANTAGE: One quirk in the women's tournament is that some higher seeds wind up playing virtual road games against underdog opponents. That has worked to LSU's advantage before.

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