West Virginia cannot make comeback in 72-66 loss against Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 00:01
The West Virginia men's basketball team couldn't scrape back from an early second-half run and fell to rival Pitt 72-66 in the Backyard Brawl Monday night.
Pittsburgh ended the first half on a 7-2 run to take a 33-29 lead into halftime, and it started the second half the same way.
Coupled with a technical foul by West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, the Panthers found themselves up ten early in the second half.
Huggins said following the game that he was communicating with senior point guard Truck Bryant.
"I've had a bunch of technicals," Huggins said. "I've never had one for yelling at a player for not making a rotation. I'm yelling at (Truck) and this guy T's me up across the court. He wasn't even in my field of vision."
West Virginia freshman Jabarie Hinds also said Huggins was talking with Truck.
"It really changed the game," Hinds said.
West Virginia was able to jump out to a quick lead in the first half. A Hinds 3-pointer increased the Mountaineers' lead to 7-2 at the 18:03 mark.
Hinds finished with 10 points.
Pittsburgh went scoreless for almost six minutes in the first half, but found itself with a four-point lead at halftime.
Aaron Brown hit a 3-pointer with 11:24 remaining in the first half – it was the only basket the Mountaineers would score until little more than seven minutes were remaining.
During the drought, West Virginia went 0-for-6 with five turnovers.
West Virginia wasn't able to contain Pittsburgh guard Tray Woodall in the first half. He had 16 of his 24 points during the first 20 minutes. Senior Ashton Gibbs also scored 15 for the Panthers.
The second half started the way the first half ended, with the Mountaineers struggling on both sides of the court.
Pittsburgh connected on one of its free throws to increase its lead to 41-31.
The Mountaineers wouldn't go down easy, though, going on an 8-3 run to cut the Panthers lead to 48-45 with 10:30 remaining.
West Virginia had two chances to cut the Panther lead to two points, but both times freshman Gary Browne committed the turnover.
"You can't run over somebody when you're down by four," Huggins said of Browne's first turnover.
The Panthers went on a 7-2 run to open up a 63-56 lead with just 3:38 to play.
"The last five minutes, they just out-toughed us," said West Virginia senior forward Kevin Jones.
Jones again led the Mountaineers with his eighth straight 20-point game as he scored 21 points and collected 13 rebounds.
Truck Bryant scored 14 points, but was 2-of-7 from the field. He was 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
"Whether I put up 20 or ten, I just want the team to win," Jones said. "It's not satisfying when we don't win."
It's the first time since 2006 – also in the Huggins era – that West Virginia has lost three-straight games.
"We need wins. And we need wins fast," Bryant said. "I know it's rough for the young guys. It's rough for me. I'm not used to losing. It's just rough right now."
West Virginia had one of its best free throw performances of the season connecting on 20-of-24 from the line. Pittsburgh was 21-of-26 from the free throw line.