No. 6 West Virginia 70, No. 22 Pittsburgh 51

Several objects were thrown onto the court after Pittsburgh had

nearly erased a double-digit deficit, prompting West Virginia coach

Bob Huggins to grab the courtside microphone and tell the restless

sellout crowd, “That’s stupid.”

His players took over from there.

Da’Sean Butler scored 18 points, Kevin Jones added 16 and the

pair stepped up their games after Huggins’ speech midway through

the second half, carrying No. 6 West Virginia to a 70-51 win over

the 22nd-ranked Panthers on Wednesday night.

West Virginia (18-3, 7-2 Big East) used a steady diet of

3-pointers and fed off the energy of the third-largest home crowd

in school history and the successful debut of suspended freshman

Deniz Kilicli to earn its fifth straight win.

It marked the start of a tough four-game stretch in nine days

for the Mountaineers that includes contests with St. John’s, No. 2

Villanova and at Pittsburgh on Feb. 12.

But some fans’ behavior cast a shadow over a solid win.

“It was uncalled for,” Butler said. “There is a time and a

place for stuff like that, but one place is not the basketball

court. Take that outside if you’re going to do it. I don’t know

what the fans are trying to prove whether they’re tough or not but

it’s not what we do. I would appreciate it if they would stop. It

might cost us a game.”

Pittsburgh (16-6, 6-4) was outrebounded 45-31, shot an abysmal

30 percent from the field, made just six field goals after halftime

and was held to its second-lowest scoring total of the season.

Butler’s 3-pointer put West Virginia ahead by double digits 4

minutes after halftime before Pittsburgh mounted a comeback.

Little-used freshman J.J. Richardson scored five points in the

span of a minute and Pittsburgh pulled within 43-41 with 12:51

left. His previous season high was two points.

The Panthers got no closer and West Virginia steadily pulled

away.

“They deserved to win,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said.

“It was 43-41 and we didn’t get a rebound after that and that’s

where we got beat.”

Huggins grabbed a microphone and addressed the fans a short time

after objects were thrown on the court with 12:08 left, telling the

crowd, “don’t throw anything on the floor. That’s stupid.”

As the crowd applauded him, Huggins then asked if someone did it

again, “point him out so we can throw him out of here.”

Someone didn’t listen.

With 5:14 left, as the officials were reviewing on the courtside

TV a scuffle under the basket involving Pitt’s Gary McGhee and two

West Virginia players, Pittsburgh assistant coach Tom Herrion was

hit with what appeared to be a coin under his right eye. Huggins

could be seen asking Herrion, who had a visible bruise under the

eye, about it after the game.

“I think the fans throwing stuff out on the court was wrong,”

Huggins said afterward. “You want them to be enthusiastic and

they’ve been terrific. I love them to death, but whoever threw

things on the floor is dumb. You just can’t do that.”

West Virginia’s students were sent several e-mails by a

university official in recent weeks over their behavior at games.

They were asked to tone down their language after profanities were

heard on national TV in a Jan. 23 win over Ohio State. Against

Louisville last Saturday, fans chanted the name of a woman that

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino admitted having sex with outside his

marriage.

“We knew they had a rowdy crowd,” Pittsburgh’s Jermaine Dixon

said. “But the best part is that we get to play them up at our

place in a couple days.”

After Pittsburgh nearly pulled even and the objects started

flying, West Virginia went on a 15-4 run. Butler, Jones and Darryl

Bryant hit 3-pointers and the Mountaineers pulled ahead 56-43 with

6:31 remaining. Jones scored 15 of his 16 points in the final 12

minutes.

The Mountaineers made 5 of 10 shots from beyond the arc after

halftime and clinched their second straight win over the Panthers

by going 10 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final five

minutes.

Devin Ebanks had 16 rebounds for West Virginia and Kilicli

provided a spark in his first action of the season after sitting

out an NCAA-imposed 20 games for playing on a team in his native

Turkey that included a professional player.

The 6-foot-9 Kilicli went 3 of 3 from the field and scored seven

points in 4 minutes in the first half. The capacity crowd gave him

a standing ovation when he entered the game and was mobbed by his

teammates when he came out a few minutes later. He finished with

nine points in 7 minutes.

“We needed that boost especially from the bench,” Butler said

before poking some fun at his teammates. “I think that’s the most

points we’ve gotten from the bench all year – combined.”

Dixon returned from an injury to lead Pittsburgh with 13 points.

Ashton Gibbs added 11 points but second-leading scorer Brad

Wanamaker was held scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting.

The Panthers have dropped four of five conference games after

starting 5-0 in the league and reaching the Top 10.