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West Virginia Vs. Pitt: Can The 'Eers Stop Their Free Fall?

Mountaineers fans are nervous, and rightfully so. After spending much of the early season seemingly as a lock for the NCAA Tournament, now ... not so much. The Mountaineers are 1-5 in their last six contests and seem to be a team in free fall. All but one of those losses were close, so it shouldn't take much for WVU to snap out of it. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they're staring down a trip to the Peterson Event Center where Pitt is a very, very tough team to beat. When the two squared off in Morgantown, Pitt won by six, but it wasn't that close. What are the storylines for the Mountaineers tonight?

  • Can Truck pull out of the ditch? Who knows anymore? Mountaineer fans are generally a little too hard on Truck but he hasn't been doing anyone any favors lately. His 32-point explosion against Providence notwithstanding, he's been a missing man lately. The Mountaineers last few contests have been riddled with mistakes and misses from the senior point guard and that just can't happen if WVU is going to stand a chance.
  • Can KJ step it up? Amazingly, Kevin Jones hasn't played his best of late. Shots he was making down low are now rimming out. He's having a harder time getting to loose rebound. He gets 100 percent of the opposing team's defensive attention and he's been struggling to be as productive as was earlier in the season. That said, he's still averaging 20 and 11 and leading the conference in scoring and rebounding, so we're really talking about shades of grey here.
  • Can the Turk use his size and his head? Deniz Kilicli has played great of late. It almost seems as if he finally understands how huge he is and how he can dominate other players inside. Unfortunately, he wasn't using his head against Louisville and his stupid technical foul was a key moment in the Mountaineers let a victory slide away. The Turk has got to play hard and physical, but also smart. His silly tech cost him valuable second half minutes, a loss the Mountaineers couldn't recover from.
  • The schedule demands it. This is a must-win. Not only is it possibly the last Backyard BasketBrawl for awhile, WVU is desperately seeking a victory. If they can't pull one out tonight, then the Mountaineers will likely be looking at a trip to the NIT.
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Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.