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
“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
“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
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
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.