The only Big East basketball game on Monday was the hardwood version of the Backyard Brawl. The Pittsburgh Panthers defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers, 72-66. Pitt is on a three-game winning streak while West Virginia is on a three-game losing streak. At 3-7 in league play, the Panthers are threatening to climb out of the Big East cellar while the Mountaineers (5-5) can almost see the door to it.
The Panthers came into the game as the Big East's leader in rebound margin but were outrebounded, 32-31, but held a 26-24 edge in free throws. Pitt shot 50% in the first half while West Virginia shot 45.5%. The Mountaineers held a 17-9 lead in the first half, but Pitt closed out the final eight minutes on a 24-12 run.
The Panthers picked up where they left off in the second half, extending a 33-29 halftime lead to 41-31 with 17:40 to play. The Mountaineers had shot 3-8 from behind the arc in the first half but only hit 1-11 from three-point range in the second half. West Virginia kept it close as the game came to an end but the Panthers hit their free throws down the stretch to keep the lead safe.
Pitt was led by a game-high 24 points from Tray Woodall. Ashton Gibbs pitched in with 15 points for the Panthers. The Mountaineers got a double-double of 21 points and 13 boards from Kevin Jones, the Big East's leading scorer and rebounder. Deniz Kilicli, Darryl Bryant and Jabarie Hinds also reached double figures in scoring for West Virginia.
After the game, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins announced that freshman forward Kevin Noreen broke his ankle in the first half. Noreen averages 2.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg in 12.4 minutes per game for the Mountaineers. Huggins was assessed a technical foul during the game for the referee not understanding that the coach was yelling at Darryl "Truck" Bryant for missing an assignment. Bryant is the second-leading scorer for West Virginia (and 6th in the Big East), how the referees aren't aware of his nickname is beyond us.
For more postgame coverage of Pitt vs. West Virginia, visit the SB Nation Pittsburgh storystream. For more Pitt coverage, visit Cardiac Hill. For more postgame, West Virginia coverage, visit The Smoking Musket.
The only Big East game on Tuesday is Seton Hall at No. 15 Marquette (8 p.m., TV: ESPN3).