WVU seniors know opening round can be treacherous 159

SAN DIEGO — WVU’s seniors understand the survive-and-advance pressure of NCAA tournament first-round games. Recent history has been quite a teacher.

As freshmen, Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles were key parts of a fifth-seeded team that eked past Buffalo, 68-62, in the opener. In 2016, they experienced the wrath of 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin dominating the third-seeded Mountaineers, 70-56.

Then last season, as a 4-seed, WVU held off Bucknell, 86-80.

Now comes a 5-vs.-12 match-up against Murray State (26-5), the champion of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Racers own the nation’s longest winning streak, at 13 games.

“They’re really good,” said WVU’s Bob Huggins, who will be coaching in his 24th NCAA tournament March 16.

And what of his own team? Any warning signs reminiscent of the SFA upset two years ago?

“We’re practicing better than they were then,” Huggins said, praising Carter and Miles for keeping the current team on cue. “Those guys thought they were going to go beat Stephen F. Austin and then start getting ready for the tournament. These guys haven’t been like that.”

Having taken two teams to the Final Four — Cincinnati, in 1992, and WVU, in 2010 — Huggins knows this version of the Mountaineers (24-10) could make a run to San Antonio if its plays to its potential. After all, WVU beat top-seeded Virginia in December and built sizable second-half leads in three games against another No. 1 seed, Kansas, only to lose all three.

Carter has played a role in 103 wins, just four shy of Da’Sean Butler’s school record, and the two-time Big 12 defensive player of the year stepped up his offensive output this season, averaging 17 points and 6.6 assists per game.

Miles broke out of a season-long shooting slump recently and averaged 22 points at the Big 12 tournament, making 15 of 27 from 3-point range over three games. At 13 points per game, Miles is part of a balanced lineup in which various players can emerge as secondary scorers on any given night.

Center Sagaba Konate (10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds) made strides as a low-post threat, while Lamont West (9.5 points) and Beetle Bolden (8.9 points) can fill it up from 3. Forward Esa Ahmad (10.1 points., 5.3 rebounds) has been very good or invisible with not many performances in between.

The Mountaineers are 10.5-point favorites over Murray State, which is enjoying its third-highest seed ever in 15 NCAA appearances.

“The way our guys were able to finish the season, and having double-digit road wins, I was pleased to see our players get that kind of respect,” Racers coach Matt McMahon said. “It’s been a lot of fun getting to this point.”

Leading the way is one of the country’s best mid-major players, senior guard Jonathan Stark, who scores 21.8 per game. He shoots 41 percent from 3 and 88 percent at the foul line.

“He’s a good dude,” said WVU’s Bolden, who teamed with Stark during a tour of Spain last summer. “He’s a crafty player and he can score at all levels of the court. Can shoot the 3, he can drive to get his players open shots and he can finish crazy shots at the rim.”

Then Bolden added, “He’s kind of like (Oklahoma’s) Trae Young, a shorter version of him.”

Murray State also features a dynamic small forward, Terrell Miller (14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds), and underrated freshman point guard, Ja Morant (12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists).

“Morant is a high-level point guard,” Huggins said. “He’s really good in transition, and probably as good at driving and finishing around the rim as anyone we’ve played.”

WVU is 10-8 against teams in the NCAA field, while Murray State is 0-1, losing, 81-77, to Auburn on Dec. 19.

“Our guys have eliminated everything that’s happened in the past and focused on becoming the best team they can be,” McMahon said. “Play with great energy and passion and joy a lot of toughness, because if you don’t bring toughness [today], you’re in for a world of hurt.”

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Mylan announces layoffs, about 500 affected 2257

MORGANTOWN — Mylan on Friday announced layoffs affecting about 15 percent of its Morgantown workforce, primarily in operations.

Mylan spokeswoman Christine Waller said the current workforce is about 3,500 and after the layoffs it will stand at about 3,000. “Following the layoffs, we will remain one of the largest employers in West Virginia,” she said.

The layoffs are tied to “right-sizing” the plant, which was built out over the decades, Waller said.

Mylan elaborated on that in a statement: “We believe our plant in Morgantown is one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the world. As the industry has changed and regulatory expectations have continued to evolve, we’ve realized that our Morgantown plant needed to be rightsized to be less complex.

It continued, “The right-sizing is consistent with discussions we are having with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is necessary in order to position the site as best we can for continued operations. We remain committed to a U.S. manufacturing base and plan to continue making the majority of the medicines we supply to the U.S in the U.S.”

Asked if reports tying the layoffs to FDA inspections of the plant, as mentioned in a Friday story on a union meeting regarding the layoffs, Waller said the action is focused on the size and complexity of the site.

The layoffs are effective immediately, Waller said. Mylan is also in discussion with the union — United Steel Workers Local 8-957 — regarding a separation package offer for more senior union members.

The union held a mandatory meeting on the topic Friday morning. Early Friday afternoon, leaders were still in meetings and could not be reached for comment.

Mylan concluded its statement saying, “For nearly 60 years, Mylan has been a proud corporate citizen in West Virginia, and we remain so today. Mylan’s commitment to its employees and the community is to ensure that our company remains built to last and always positioned to serve patient needs as effectively as possible.”

Fox News to host GOP primary debate in Morgantown 296

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Fox News Channel plans to stage a Republican primary debate for U.S. Senate candidates in Morgantown, the network announced Thursday.

Anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will co-moderate the debate May 1 at the Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The debate will include any candidate who polls above a 10-percent threshold in the Fox News poll set to be released next week. The event kicks off a Fox News series called “America’s Election Headquarters 2018” leading up to the midterms.

A separate U.S. Senate debate is slated for Monday at Wheeling Jesuit University’s Troy Theater. starting at 6:30 p.m.

That 90-minute debate, sponsored by The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register, will air live statewide on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s main channel as will be streamed at wvpublic.org.

Participating candidates in the Wheeling debate include:

— U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins

— West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

— Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship

— West Virginia National Guard Maj. Tom Willis

— Former coal miner Bo Copley

— U.S. Navy veteran Jack Newbrough

Mighty Mothers comes to Brookhaven Elementary 125

MORGANTOWN — Brookhaven Elementary School hosted an event called Mighty Mothers.

The purpose of the event was to foster closer relationships and create  bonding time for children and their mothers by doing various crafts and activities.

The event was sponsored by Monongalia County Schools Parent Educator Resource Center (PERC).

Last year, PERC piloted one Mighty Mothers event and decided to continue  this year in hopes of expanding their efforts.

In the past two weeks, PERC has visited four area elementary schools. Next year, the organization hopes to add additional schools and events.

Patricia Stemple, an organizer of the event said, “We’ve had very good response, and everyone is really excited about it. We hear from the Mothers that it’s so nice that now there’s something for mothers.”

When asked about the future of the event, Julie Parsons, another event organizer, said, “We hope that next school year additional elementary schools will be interested in this.”

Parsons and Stemple will  contact elementary schools in the fall to ask  about their interests in the program.