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Monday, June 26, 2017

Carey reflects on Big 12 tournament title

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–The Mountaineers entered the Big 12 tournament from the outside looking in when it came to the NCAA. This would quickly change as the Mountaineers ripped off big victories over Oklahoma, Texas, and Baylor on their way to a Big 12 tournament championship. Coach Mike Carey is still trying to process what his team accomplished in Oklahoma City, but stressed that there are bigger goals in mind for his program.

“Not really, you know what, to me it is always about we expect to go to the NCAA tournament. We didn’t have the year we wanted to have, and we knew going into the tournament we needed to win at least one game. It’s great to win the Big 12 tournament but you know we want to do something in the NCAA tournament as well.”

What the Mountaineers accomplished in the conference tournament was historical. This was the first conference tournament title since 1989 when the Mountaineers won the Atlantic 10 tournament.  For the Big 12, this was the second time a six seed had won the conference tournament, the first time was in 2004 when Oklahoma defeated top seed Texas 66-47.

The victory over Baylor in the championship game was phenomenal as Baylor has been an unstoppable force in the Big 12 tournament the past six years, winning twenty straight games and going for their seventh straight Big 12 tournament championship this year. Baylor’s last loss in the conference tournament was March 12, 2010 to Oklahoma.

Let’s not forget about Sophomore guard Tynice Martin and how big she was in this Big 12 tournament.  Named Most Outstanding Player, Martin scored thirty-two points in the championship game and set a new record for most points in a conference title game. In addition, she scored over twenty points in all three games of the conference tournament and scored more than thirty points three times during the regular season. Not bad for a Mountaineer program that at one point struggled to get decent in-state talent.

This was only the second win over Baylor for Carey and his squad in their thirteen attempts and it was for the conference title, which makes it that much sweeter. After the game, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey had nothing but good things to say about Carey and his players and for the WVU coach, the feelings are mutual.

“We’ve always had a great relationship, as soon as we joined the Big 12, I knew Kim before because we played them in the NCAA. They have a great program, she (Mulkey) does a great job, and we enjoy going against them.  I’d rather go against the best teams instead of the worst teams, you want those opportunities.”

The players arrived back in Morgantown from Oklahoma City with big smiles, a Big 12 trophy, and screaming fans. People were waiting at the airport to congratulate and welcome back the Mountaineers and it continued into Morgantown. Coach Carey loved seeing the fans out showing love for his squad.

“It was great, we had some fans there, we landed the plane Clarksburg-Bridgeport there, we got on the bus and came to Morgantown, and had a lot of fans there. So, it was great.”

The Mountaineers will await their NCAA tournament fate until it is revealed on Monday, March 13th, at 7:00 pm. Rumor has it that WVU could host two tournament games because of their play in the Big 12 tournament. The Mountaineers are a projected seven seed, and since Stanford, a projected two seed, is experiencing venue conflicts, they may get the opportunity to host.  WVU is making its 12th appearance in the NCAA tournament overall and 10th under Carey.

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