WVU’s Routt, Gordon Fill the Gap Against Oklahoma
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the postseason, the extraordinary becomes ordinary. The unexpected, the expected. The surprising, the mundane. That’s what makes tournament play so exciting — the only thing that can be counted on is that something unforeseen is going to happen.
Thus it was that West Virginia’s Logan Routt and Drew Gordon, two backups whose court time in the second half of the season has been mostly determined by how much rest starter Drew Culver needs, played key — no make that the most important — roles in the Mountaineers’ 72-71 win over Oklahoma.
With Culver saddled with two early fouls in the first half, it fell to two players at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum to pick up the slack, which they did with gusto. While the expectation might have been that the duo would just eat some minutes and grab a rebound or two until Culver could get back, they did much more than that. Routt made all three of his shots from the field, scoring eight points, and grabbed five rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Gordon, who didn’t get off the bench in two of WVU’s most recent six games and saw an average of fewer than six minutes of action in three others, added four points, four boards,two blocked shots and an assist in 11 minutes of play. Those numbers kept WVU in front for much of the first half, then helped the Mountaineers rally in the second.
“Those two guys, Andrew just started playing basketball,” head coach Bob Huggins said of the pair. “So he’s going to make some mistakes and we realize that. Logan has been in the program. This is his fourth year. I thought he did a really good job on trying to stay in front of him. That was really good to see.”
Routt, who hasn’t often been called upon to defend anyone away from the basket, has been working on guarding more mobile players in practice. Former Mountaineer Nathan Adrian has been an opponent he has worked against, and that helped him against players such as OU’s Kristian Doolittle.
“Usually I’m guarding a big body. I’ve been guarding Nate Adrian all week. The last two weeks he has been practicing with us,” Routt said, noting that had helped his defense away from the hoop. “I’ve just been listening to [assistant coach Erik Martin] and Huggs and doing what they tell me to do. I’ve stuck to what I’ve been doing, and it paid off.”
On the other end, Routt was aggressive in going to the bucket.
“I knew that I could score on any of their defenders inside if I got the ball,” he said matter-of-factly. “I just took advantage of it, and tried to be strong with it.”
Gordon was also solid on both ends, taking what was available while not suffering from the turnover bug. When Routt needed a break, and when Culver picked his third foul early in the second half, his time on the court became even more important.
“Once I got my number called, I had to go in there and do what I had to do,” said the engaging sophomore. “There were times that we weren’t totally locked in, but Coach Huggs did a good job of pulling everyone off to the side and letting us know where we needed to be, and that we needed to pick it up if we wanted to stay here.”
WVU probably would be packing for the flight home, rather than getting rest and studying for Texas Tech, if that hadn’t happened, and Routt and Gordon, along with the revitalized team concept, were the biggest reasons why. They helped WVU manufacture a 46-36 rebouding edge, including a massive 16-5 advantage on the offensive glass. That led to a 17-7 bulge in second chance points.
Routt admitted he didn’t think his team would have won this game a couple of months ago.
“I don’t think we play anything like we did two months ago,” he said. “We practice way better, we play way better. We have molded way better. We played a great game.”