After a close first-half, Pitt proved too much for West Virginia as the Panthers won 71-58 at the Pete. The Panthers and Mountaineers played to a virtual tie with West Virginia holding a slim 31-30 lead at halftime.
West Virginia struggled through a tough shooting night, hitting only 33% of their shots. Pitt, meanwhile, was red hot, shooting nearly 60% from the field. It was a typical Panther win as no one player was the offensive star. Nasir Robinson led the team in scoring with 15 points, but three others (Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown, and Lamar Patterson) each contributed 11. Ashton Gibbs also added nine.
But the best player on the court may have been Mountaineer senior guard, Casey Mitchell. Mitchell, who was just returning from a suspension, didn’t have a great game against Pitt a few weeks back in their first meeting. But tonight, he shot 5-11 from the field (4-6 from three-point range) and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line, leading all scorers with 22 points.
While a win would have likely cemented West Virginia’s NCAA tournament hopes, a loss doesn’t kill them. The Mountaineers are 17-10 overall and 8-7 in the conference. If they can manage to win one game over their final three (at Rutgers and home against Louisville and UConn), they would finish .500 in the conference and with 18 wins. West Virginia also already owns wins against Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Purdue. One more win should do it for the Mountaineers.
For Pitt, it’s all about trying to secure a No. 1 seed. Pitt holds a two game lead (which is essentially a 1.5 game lead because second-place Big East team, Notre Dame, holds a tiebreaker) with three games left against South Florida, Louisville, and Villanova. Winning the regular season Big East title would go a long way in locking down a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.