INDIANAPOLIS - If the image one takes away from this season's West Virginia team comes from Saturday night's 78-57 Final Four rout at the hands of Duke, it's understandable.
The final image is usually what sticks. In this case, though, allowing that image to override the others would also stink.
For the Mountaineers' climb was one to remember.
Yes, Saturday night's performance was one to forget.
On a worldwide stage, with Final Four memories swirling of the likes of Adolph Rupp, John Wooden, Texas Western and Villanova over Georgetown, WVU failed to contribute.
The sign outside Lucas Oil Stadium proclaimed The Road Ends Here. And, indeed, it did for WVU. Was like the Mountaineers ran into a truck - without having their own Truck.
Beforehand, everything seemed in place. WVU coach Bob Huggins had a traditional game day. Breakfast, an hour shootaround, a pregame meal.
Too, the Mountaineer players seemed - as always - loose. Team star Da'Sean Butler came out to the stadium's raised floor to the chant of his name. A nice showing of West Virginia fans stood and cheered. There were fist bumps.
But this was no ordinary game. It was no ordinary opponent.
WVU's team and fans were ranting that the Mountaineers, not the Blue Devils, deserved a No. 1 seed. But the opponent on Saturday was coached by a man - Mike Krzyzewski - who has more NCAA victories than any other. He is second in Final Four wins to ex-UCLA coach Wooden.
He outcoached WVU's fine mentor, Bob Huggins. His team outplayed West Virginia. It was more prepared. It was more efficient. It was more intelligent.
One saw early indicators when usually sure WVU forward Kevin Jones missed two free throws in front of the 71,298 in attendance. Mountaineer point guard Joe Mazzulla had already been called for a charge. Butler was being shut down. And when Duke forward Kyle Singler drilled a 3-point basket at 11:03, Huggins knew the indicators were forecasting a down market.
Afterward, though, Duke kept hitting its treys. Kicks and hits.
WVU was trying to match up freshman Deniz Kilicli with Blue Devil Brian Zoubek. The experiment failed. The 1-3-1 defensive experiment failed. The Mountaineers were outrebounded 17-10 at halftime.
Duke was even outhustling WVU, chalking up 12 second-chance points at the half to none.
Perhaps most startling, most disturbing, however, for those who have watched West Virginia this season was the way the Mountaineers collapsed. The wheels came off of a machine that's usually tough to shut down.
The more Duke hit the 3-ball (13 in all at game's end), the more West Virginia melted.
Devin Ebanks had a hissy fit coming off the raised floor. Butler argued with Huggins. Even Huggins himself snapped a couple times. At the beginning of the second half, after the starters huddled and were moving into their positions, he jumped Butler.