Backyard Brawl has West Virginia hosting Pittsburgh
(Sports Network) – The 16th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers have
struggled recently, and they figure to face a stiff test at home from the
eighth-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers in Big East Conference action. These two
teams enter tonight’s clash with identical 10-4 league records, and they are
trailing only Villanova and UConn, a pair of 12-2 clubs. Pittsburgh has won
four of its last five games to move to 21-4 overall, and the most recent
victory occurred on Saturday by a score of 81-68 over Providence. The
Panthers are now a perfect 16-0 at home, but they carry a rather modest 5-4
mark in true road games into this clash.
As for West Virginia, it won its first eight league tilts before falling on
hard times. The Mountaineers did manage to halt a three-game losing skid with
a 68-64 decision over Louisville at home on Saturday, but that game was
closer than expected. Earlier this season, Pittsburgh recorded a 57-53
decision over West Virginia. Still, the Mountaineers own a 91-78 edge in the
all-time series between the long-time rivals.
Pittsburgh is averaging a solid 74.6 ppg this season while limiting its
opponents to 63.3 ppg on 40.6 percent shooting from the floor. Carl Krauser
continues to lead the Panthers at the offensive end, as he is netting 15.7 ppg
to go along with other team-highs of 112 assists and 46 steals. The only other
double-digit scorer for the club is Aaron Gray, as the big man is posting 14.1
ppg and 10.5 rpg. Rebounding has been a major key to success for Pitt, as it
is pulling down 7.3 rpg more than its foes.
In the 13-point triumph over Providence last time out, Antonio Graves paced
the Panthers with 18 points off the bench. Gray contributed 17 points and
nine boards, while Carl Krauser pitched in 14 points. An 18-11 advantage in
points from the foul line proved to be a key for Pittsburgh. The team was
actually outrebounded by three boards in the win.
West Virginia possesses one of the nation’s premier offensive duos comprised
of Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey. Pittsnogle is a 6-11 center who is
averaging 19.1 ppg on 40.3 percent shooting from three-point range and 85.7
percent from the foul line. He is not much of a threat as an interior scorer,
although he has improved in that area. As for Gansey, he is contributing 17.7
ppg on 56.5 percent efficiency from the field, including 43.8 percent from
behind the arc. The Mountaineers are netting 71.6 ppg while surrendering 63.4
ppg to their opponents.
In the narrow win over Louisville, Pittsnogle poured in 21 points on 10-of-15
shooting from the floor, overshadowing the fact that he was 1-of-6 from
three-point range. Gansey tallied 17 points for WVU, which also got 13 points
from J.D. Collins. The Mountaineers earned a 12-4 edge in points from the
foul line and racked up 20 assists against only seven turnovers.