PITTSBURGH - When West Virginia's season ended with a thud here Thursday with a 77-54 loss to Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament, so did too the career of Kevin Jones.
While the Zags were freely substituting reserves at the end, Jones stood on the opposition's top of the key. His hands were on his knees. Finally, he stood and walked slowly. He put his arm around his teammate and fellow senior, Truck Bryant, as time expired.
And now he's walking into WVU's sunset as the school's fifth all-time leading scorer with 1,822 points, trailing only Jerry West, Rod Hundley, Da'Sean Butler and Wil Robinson.
"I thought, 'This is it,' " Jones said. "I couldn't imagine sharing it with a better friend and teammate than Truck.
"It's kind of a sad, emotional moment. But I have another career to concentrate on now."
Jones finished with 1,048 rebounds, also fifth all-time at WVU. What he didn't have was one of the best exits. Still, the senior held his head high.
"I'm still proud of my teammates," Jones said. "How they fought all year. I'll have my memories."
West Virginia had a rather large contingent of followers here for the game. According to WVU deputy athletic director Mike Parsons, the school quickly sold its allotment of 550 tickets.
"Many more were bought on the secondary market," he said. "WVU fans used their corporate connections and friendships to get more than were purchased locally in advance.
Some tickets were released to the public shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday. It was estimated that 5,000 WVU fans were present.
Parsons also said Thursday's contest won't be the last time the Mountaineers will play at the Consol Energy Center. Next season's away game with Duquesne will also be played in the arena.
When Southern Miss fell to Kansas State earlier Thursday, it was a game with many West Virginia connections. Southern Miss, of course, is a Conference USA member with Marshall, while K-State coach Frank Martin partly owes his head coaching job to Bob Huggins, who helped him land the job after departing for WVU.
After the 70-64 K-State victory, the coaches of both teams had some interesting things to say.
The Wildcats, for instance, have become a popular bracket pool pick to defeat Syracuse now that Orange big man Fab Melo is out of the mix.