West Virginia uses second-half surge to defeat Pitt 66-48 in possible final Backyard Brawl
Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012 01:02
It was a win West Virginia had to get.
The Mountaineers hadn't won inside the Petersen Events Center since 2005, but they were able to pull out a 66-48 win Thursday night to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive and end a streak of five losses in six games.
West Virginia used an 11-1 run midway through the second half to give it the cushion it needed to finish off Pittsburgh in what could be the final Backyard Brawl.
"This was a special opportunity for us," said WVU senior forward Kevin Jones. "We wanted to win it. They beat us at home, and we wanted to return the favor."
West Virginia had four players in double-figure scoring, but was led by Jones who put together a 16-point, 13-rebound performance.
Senior guard Truck Bryant, who wasn't in the starting lineup due to a "coach's decision," scored 15 points and collected seven rebounds. Bryant said WVU head coach Bob Huggins told him this morning in the shoot around that he "couldn't start him."
Huggins said following the game it was because Truck has been playing too many minutes.
"I would never question a coach's decision," Bryant said. "As long as we get the win, I have no worries."
Junior forward Deniz Kilicli finished with 14 points, while freshman guard Gary Browne, who started in place of Bryant, finished with 12 points and five assists.
West Virginia was able to hold Pitt guards Tray Woodall and Ashton Gibbs to just 20 combined points. The two went off for a combined 39 points two weeks ago in their win in Morgantown.
"We had to do a better job with on-ball screens," Huggins said. "We tried to get to him a little bit."
In the first half, neither team could get a lead of more than five points.
The Mountaineers found themselves up 9-4 at the 14:14 mark after a Kilicli kook shot, but the Panthers hung around.
Pittsburgh took its first lead of the game – 21-20 – at the 4:05 mark after two free throws from Gibbs. The Panthers capped off a 6-0 run by taking a 23-20 lead, but Jones then ended it with four consecutive points to give the Mountaineers a 24-23 lead.
Jones and Kilicli accounted for 17 of the Mountaineers first half points.
West Virginia took a 26-25 lead into the locker room at halftime. It's only the second time since the Marshall game on Jan. 18 the Mountaineers have led at halftime.
West Virginia jumped out to a 33-29 lead early in the second half, but failed on two straight possessions to extend it any further.
The Panthers scored to keep it close, but that's when the wheels started to come off the wagon.
West Virginia held Pittsburgh to just four field goals and 13 points in the final nine minutes of the game. After shooting 45.5 percent in the first half, Pittsburgh shot just 29 percent in the second half.
The Panthers struggled from the 3-point range through the game shooting 3-for-16. Woodall and Gibbs were a combined 0-for-9.
"We're just trying to get in the NCAA tournament," Huggins said. "We just want to get wins. We just need to get wins."