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Pitt Upsets WVU

Panthers tougher, more aggressive

January 31, 2012
By JIM ELLIOTT - Staff Writer (elliott@theintelligencer.net) , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - Bob Huggins has said his guys have gotten pretty good at standing around and watching.

What they saw Monday night was a Pitt team that was a week removed from an eight-game losing streak come into their place, get to every loose ball, and pull out off a stunning upset, 72-66.

''They out-toughed us,'' Huggins said.

Article Photos

AP PHOTO

West Virginia’s Gary Browne (14) and Pitt’s Tray Woodall (1) fight for a loose ball during their game Monday night in Morgantown.

Those words had to be difficult to muster, considering Huggins has built a career that features more than 700 victories, mostly by never having to say his team was pushed around.

''The 50-50 balls, we lost,'' West Virginia center Deniz Kilicli said. ''What we stand for is getting to those.''

Huggins, as frustrated as he's been in a while as his team suffered a third straight defeat - two of which have come to teams with sub-.500 conference records - said the only thing that has been consistent about the 2011-12 Mountaineers is their inconsistency.

''We get on a run and we're passing the ball and we're playing pretty good then some guy will decide he's got to show everybody he can't dribble,'' Huggins said. ''Or we'll do a pretty good job of rebounding, then all of a sudden the ball will bounce and they'll grab it and put it in and we're just standing there. That's the way it's been all year.

''We just don't get to the ball. There's not an athletic game that you play that you don't have to get to the ball.''

Things were so bad Monday, Pitt (14-9 overall, 3-7 Big East) routinely wound up with second and third chances after scooping up loose balls that a second earlier were blocked shots.

The Mountaineers stuffed five shot attempts, with this example the best in explaining the happenings: Kevin Jones, who led the WVU with 21 points and 13 rebounds, blocked a Tray Woodall shot with a little more than 14 minutes left in the half. Pitt's Cameron Wright cleaned it up and missed a dunk with West Virginia (15-8, 5-5) knocking the ball out of bounds. Continuing that same trip, the Panthers' Lamar Patterson missed a 3-pointer, Wright corralled the rebound and missed another layup before Kilicli finally cleared it.

But the ball bouncing the other way wasn't West Virginia's only issue.

Huggins got a technical for yelling at his own player, lending credence to the conspiracy theorists who think the Big East wants to stick it to the Mountaineers any way it can on their way out the door.

''That changed the game a little bit,'' said Truck Bryant, the man to which Huggins' anger was actually intended.

Talk about changing the game, Woodall had 16 points at halftime and made a serious run at his career high of 25, falling one short. He added four rebounds and three assists.

''He destroyed us,'' Huggins said. ''Absolutely destroyed us.''

An abdominal injury caused Woodall to miss 11 games in a 12-game stretch, and the Panthers nearly lost all of them. They have won all three since he returned.

The technical came about 3 minutes before the rebounding fiasco with the Mountaineers trailing 39-31. They eventually whittled it to two at 54-52, and later, at 56-54, but never were able to get even.

Bryant, who is mired in a shooting slump that has seen him miss 35 of 47 from the field the last four games and 25 of 32 from beyond the arc, added 14 points. Kilicli added 12 points and nine rebounds, while Jabarie Hinds wound up with 10 points.

''We have to get our confidence back up,'' Hinds said. ''We don't know what to do (to fix what's wrong). But we have to do something different.''

 
 

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