No. 16/18 West Virginia (9-1) racked up its ninth straight win a 69-60 victory over Pitt (5-5) in the revival of the Backyard Brawl Saturday night inside the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh.
Foul trouble was the story for West Virginia in the first meeting between the two teams since February 2012, as the Mountaineers nearly lost an 18-point halftime lead as Pitt outscored West Virginia 33-24 in the second half.
West Virginia senior guard Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers with 19 points which included four three-pointers.
The Mountaineers shot 46 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown while their defense forced 14 Pitt turnovers.
Pitt held the advantage at the free throw line, going 22-of-31 while West Virginia went 5-of-9 .
West got things going early with back-to-back three-pointers to give the Mountaineers a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest.
West Virginia sophomore forward Sagaba Konate made his presence known early in the paint with two early blocks to go along with a dunk and two free throws. Miles would then hit the team’s third three-pointer of the game to give the Mountaineers a 13-5 lead at the 15:33 mark in the first half.
West Virginia then turned up its intensity on the defensive end as Pitt went on a cold streak and missed six straight shots, but the Panthers would go on a 5-0 run with three free throws from Parker Stewart and a jump shot from Jared Wilson-Frame to cut West Virginia’s lead to 15-10 near the halfway point in the first half.
Miles ended Pitt’s run with a layup and sparked a 9-2 run for West Virginia that included West’s third three-pointer of the game and layups from Miles and Carter, the Mountaineers held a 24-13 lead over the Panthers with 10:01 remaining before halftime.
Leading 26-18 with 7:40 left until halftime, West Virginia would go on a 12-0 run thanks to 12 straight points from Carter which included three three-pointers and three free throws as the Mountaineers took a 38-18 lead.
Carter would hit his fourth three-pointer of the game in the final minute of the first half as the West Virginia took a 45-27 lead at halftime.
The Mountaineers finished the first half shooting 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown. Carter led West Virginia with 17 first half points followed by West who had 11.
Foul trouble in the first half for West Virginia allowed Pitt to go 15-of-21 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes while the Mountaineers were 5-of-7. The Panthers also finished the first half with more points from made free throws (15) than from made field goals (12).
West Virginia continued to get into foul trouble in the second half as Carter and sophomore forward Wesley Harris each picked up their fourth foul within the first 10 minutes of the second half, but West Virginia still held a 54-44 lead with 11:17 left to play. At that point, Carter, Harris and Miles each had four fouls and Konate had three.
Pitt would then hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut West Virginia’s lead to 56-50 at the 9:41 mark. A three-point play from Shamiel Stevenson then narrowed West Virginia’s lead to 56-53.
A layup from West and a three-pointer from sophomore guard James “Beetle” Bolden gave the Mountaineers a 61-53 lead, but six straight points from the Panthers including a four-point play from Marcus Carr cut West Virginia’s lead to 61-59 as Harris fouled out of the game.
Back-to-back jumpers from Carter and Konate then extended West Virginia’s lead to 65-59 with 3:26 left to play.
With West Virginia leading 65-60, Pitt would then go on a cold streak and were held scoreless for the remainder of the game, which allowed West Virginia to seal the win with back-to-back layups from Miles.
The Mountaineers will return to Morgantown next Saturday for an exhibition game against Wheeling Jesuit at 2 p.m.