West Virginia has put together its longest winning streak in 17 years. Its leading scorer and rebounder, however, might not be around to help keep it alive on Saturday.
The 12th-ranked Mountaineers (13-3) could be without Kevin Pittsnogle when they visit No. 18 UCLA (15-3).
West Virginia beat Providence 64-48 on Tuesday for its 11th straight victory following a three-game losing streak in late November. The run is its longest since winning 22 in a row during the 1988-89 season.
Pittsnogle could miss this game because his wife, Heather, is more than eight months pregnant with their first child, a boy. Pittsnogle, averaging 20.6 points and 6.2 rebounds, said he will fly back or stay behind if she begins contractions.
“She can go anytime, that’s why I am kind of nervous about it,” Pittsnogle said of the trip. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen when I’m out there. I’ll be thinking about it. But when I’m on the court, basketball is all I think about.”
The Mountaineers improved to 5-0 in the Big East with Tuesday’s win, their best start in the conference since joining 11 years ago.
“The schedule is a little bit different this year,” coach John Beilein said. “Don’t give us too much credit yet.”
The Mountaineers were coming off a 104-85 win over Marquette in which they went 20-for-38 from 3-point range. Against the Friars, though, they went 6-for-29 from beyond the arc and shot just 43 percent from the field after a 54-percent performance against the Golden Eagles.
West Virginia is shooting 37 percent from the 3-point line this season, and is ranked second in the nation in both 3-pointers made (174) and attempted (472).
“It’s really good news that we’re not living or dying by the three,” Beilein said Tuesday. “And now we can look at the next game. Everybody knows who we play.”
Beilein said that he is looking forward to playing in one of the nation’s most famous college basketball venues.
“As a coach I will have coached in Rupp Arena and Cameron Indoor Stadium. Pauley Pavilion is one of those places,” he said. “I know our kids won’t appreciate it like I will.”
The Bruins bounced back from a loss to 10th-ranked Washington last Saturday by beating crosstown rival USC 66-45 on Wednesday. Jordan Farmar scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half for UCLA, which leads the Pac-10 by one-half game over three teams.
“Jordan is one of our top scorers. When he’s in double digits, this team is going to be that much better,” said Arron Afflalo, who added 11 points.
UCLA held the Trojans to their fewest points in the rivalry since 1969, and to just 13 field goals in the game. The Bruins won despite injuries to Josh Shipp (hip), Lorenzo Mata (knee) and Cedric Bozeman (shoulder), which forced them to start three freshmen and two sophomores.
Farmar had missed a couple weeks of practice with a nagging ankle injury.
“I did a lot of extra shooting this week in practice,” Farmar said. “I was looking to be aggressive.”
UCLA and West Virginia have each won one game in this series.
Lew Alcindor and the Bruins took the most recent matchup, 95-56 at Pauley Pavilion during the 1968-69 season, while the Mountaineers and Jerry West beat UCLA 87-73 in Los Angeles during the 1959-60 season.