West Virginia storms past Pittsburgh 66-48By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer Thursday, Feb 16, 2012
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Kevin Jones scored 16 points to go with 13 rebounds and Deniz Kilicli added 14 points as West Virginia beat Pittsburgh 66-48 on Thursday night in perhaps the final basketball edition of the “Backyard Brawl.”
Darryl Bryant came off the bench to score 15 for the Mountaineers (17-10, 7-7 Big East), who dominated the second half to get the last word in the 108-year-old rivalry for the foreseeable future.
West Virginia held the Panthers (15-12, 4-10) to 37 percent-shooting as Pitt finished with as many turnovers (17) as field goals while losing their third straight.
Tray Woodall led the Panthers with 12 points, but Pitt struggled getting anything going offensively as the Mountaineers used their length and suffocating defense to hold Ashton Gibbs in check.
The Big East preseason Player of the Year scored just eight points on 2-of-11 shooting.
After a one-point halftime lead, The Mountaineers pushed it to 40-33 on a Kilicli hook shot before the Petersen Events Center briefly showed signs of life during a timeout when a West Virginia fan was ejected for throwing a T-shirt shot to him by a cannon back onto the arena floor.
The Panthers came out of the timeout and forced a turnover that Woodall turned into a three-point play to get Pitt within 40-36.
The momentum didn’t last.
Gary Browne hit a putback, Jones drilled a jumper and Kilicli beat Pitt’s Dante Taylor for a dunk, drawing a foul in the process. The junior forward from Turkey screamed in the direction of the Pitt student section—which had been heckling Kilicli with chants of “USA! USA!”—after the play, then hit the free throw to push the Mountaineers in front 47-36.
Bryant, who started the game on the bench for the first time this season after an incident in downtown Morgantown last weekend, added a three-point play of his own to send fans streaming toward the exits.
West Virginia improved its all-time mark against the Panthers to 96-88 and, unless they meet again in next month’s Big East tournament, this could be the last chapter of one of the nation’s oldest rivalries for quite a while.
The Mountaineers announced earlier this week they’re leaving the Big East to join the Big 12 next season and, with Pitt heading to the ACC by 2014, there’s a serious chance the series could go on indefinite hiatus.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said Tuesday he’d be “shocked” if the rivalry doesn’t continue at some point, though it’s nearly a certainty there won’t be a game next season for the first time in nearly a century.
Though Pitt coach Jamie Dixon didn’t think the unusual circumstances would make a difference, there appeared to be a sense of desperation on both sides. Then again, maybe it had less to do with history and more to do with the immediate future.
The Panthers are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament and are already assured of their worst Big East record in more than a decade.
The Mountaineers appeared to be in solid shape three weeks ago but came in losers in five of their last six, including a 72-66 upset at home to Pitt on Jan. 30. It was a victory that was supposed to turn things around for the Panthers. Instead, the defending Big East champions have slipped back to the bottom of the conference standings and likely need to win the conference tournament to play meaningful games in late March.
The emotions led to some energetic if sloppy play. West Virginia rode Kilicli—who hit a pair of hook shots that looked like they would have fit right at home when the series began in 1904—and Jones to a narrow 26-25 halftime lead.
The Mountaineers took control after the break, never letting Pitt back in front. West Virginia walked off the court to chants of “Let’s Go Mountaineers” that echoed throughout the quickly emptying building.