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WVU rips Pitt

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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Two teams headed in different directions kept going that way.

No. 6 West Virginia defeated No. 22 Pitt, 70-51, on Wednesday for the most lopsided victory over the Panthers in more than three decades.

Pitt (16-6, 6-4) has lost four of its past five games and stuck in the worst five-game stretch since they went 1-4 from Jan. 29-Feb. 11, 2001, in coach Ben Howland’s first season.

In front of the third-largest crowd at WVU Coliseum history (15,419), Pitt never led for the second consecutive game and suffered its worst loss in the basketball version of the Backyard Brawl in 33 years.

West Virginia (18-3, 7-2), which has matched its highest ranking in 28 years, beat Pitt for only the sixth time in their past 18 meetings.

Jermaine Dixon scored a team-high 13 points for Pitt. Ashton Gibbs went 2 for 13 from the field with 11 points and Gary McGhee was 3 of 11 from the field — missing mostly easy layups — for nine points. J.J. Richardson scored nine points off the bench.

Da’Sean Butler scored 18 points and Kevin Jones chipped in 16 for West Virginia, which has won five in a row.

West Virginia used a 19-6 run to take control after Pitt had cut the deficit to 43-41 with 13 minutes to play. Pitt’s cold-shooting continued, as the Panthers had only two field goals and 10 points in the final 12:50 of the game and shot 30.2 percent from the field.

The two teams will meet again  Feb. 12 at Petersen Events Center

Trailing 42-32, Pitt went on a 9-1 run to make it 43-41 WVU. But Jones made two free throws and Ebanks made a 3-pointer for a 48-41 cushion and Pitt never got any closer than five points the rest of the way.

The game was delayed for about five minutes with 5:14 to play after some pushing and shoving under the basket. Head coaches Jamie Dixon of Pitt and Bob Huggins went onto the floor to maintain control and, after viewing the replays, officials gave technical fouls to Devin Ebanks of West Virginia and PItt’s Nasir Robinson.

Pitt trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but the Panthers switched to a 2-3 zone defense and closed the gap. Down 26-15 after Jones hit a 3-pointer, Pitt went on a 9-0 run capped by Gibbs’ 3-pointer to pull Pitt to within 26-24 with 3:30 to play in the first half.

The zone defense seemed to confuse the Mountaineers, who managed only six points during a nine-minute span as Pitt turned a 20-10 deficit into a slim 26-24 West Virginia lead.

The teams traded baskets with West Virginia taking a 34-28 lead into the locker room on Wellington Smith’s buzzer-beating tip-in.

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