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WVU holds off Bucknell to advance in NCAA tournament

Bob Huggins talks to his players in this file photo. Huggins' West Virginia University men's basketball team defeated Bucknell 86 to 80 to advance Thursday in the NCAA tournament. (Dale Sparks/WVU Athletics)

The West Virginia University Mountaineers are marching on in the NCAA Tournament.

Fourth-seeded WVU (27-8) held off No. 13 Bucknell (26-9), 86-80 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at KeyBank Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.

WVU came into the game looking to avenge a first round loss to Stephen F. Austin in last year's tournament.

The Mountaineers were led in scoring by senior guard Tarik Phillip who came off the bench to score 16, which included a 7-7 performance from the free throw line.

Sophomore Esa Ahmad and freshman Lamont West, who each scored 15 and Morgantown native Nate Adrian scored 12 and pulled down 10 rebounds to record the game's only double-double.

Junior guard Jevon Carter scored 11 to go along with 7 rebounds.

The Mountaineers have struggled all season from the free throw stripe shooting just 68 percent going into the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Against the Bison, however, the Mountaineers shot 21-29 (72.4 percent) from the charity stripe, including some late game free throws that sealed the game.

The Mountaineers also shot 45.5 percent (5-11) from beyond the 3-point arc.

The win over Bucknell gives WVU coach Bob Huggins 30 career wins in the NCAA Tournament.

WVU will remain in Buffalo for its second round game against No. 5 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (26-9) advanced to the second round earlier in the day Thursday with a 60-58 win over over No. 12 Princeton (23-7).

The Mountaineers and Fighting Irish will face off on Saturday from KeyBank Arena. A start time has not been set at this time.

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