9:00 PM ET, February 12, 2010
Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
After the latest installment of basketball's Backyard Brawl, West Virginia's players are prepared to face just about anything when they visit Pittsburgh in the rematch.Coming off a defeat to the Big East leader, the fifth-ranked Mountaineers could face an ever bigger challenge Friday night as they try to avoid a fifth consecutive road loss to their biggest rival and sweep the season series from the No. 25 Panthers.For the second straight meeting and fifth time in the 180-game series between the conference rivals, both teams are ranked. After what transpired during West Virginia's 70-51 win on Feb. 3 at Morgantown, it's likely Pittsburgh's fans will do their best to give the Panthers (18-6, 7-4) the ultimate homecourt advantage.As Pitt rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit, West Virginia's fans threw objects onto the court, prompting Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins to pick up a microphone and address the raucous, sellout crowd on its behavior.With 5:14 left, while officials reviewed a scuffle under the basket involving Pitt's Gary McGhee and two West Virginia players, Panthers assistant coach Tom Herrion was hit with what appeared to be a coin under his right eye. Though West Virginia president Jim Clements later apologized for what transpired, the Mountaineers (19-4, 8-3) know they might be even more unwelcome at the Petersen Events Center than they have in the past."We may get the same treatment or worse, or not even the treatment they got," forward Wellington Smith told West Virginia's official Web site. "It's going to be an intense game. They're going to be revved up for it, we'll be revved up for it. It's going to be a brawl to the end."Huggins, however, doesn't expect anything extraordinary in terms of fan behavior as his squad looks to win at Pitt for the first time since Feb. 23, 2005. The Mountaineers, 1-5 all-time at Petersen, have averaged 58.0 points on 37.6 percent shooting during the four-game road skid."I don't think it will be any different," Huggins said. "They have a great student section, they're very enthusiastic and loud."Lost in the circumstances of the teams' last meeting, is the importance of this game in terms of the Big East standings.After its six-game winning streak was snapped with an 82-75 home loss to No. 4 Villanova on Monday, West Virginia needs a victory to remain alone in third place and move two games behind the Wildcats.The Panthers, meanwhile, could move into a three-way tie for third with the Mountaineers and No. 7 Georgetown with a third straight victory. To do that, they must improve on their last effort against West Virginia -- Pitt was outrebounded 45-31, shot a season-low 30.2 percent, made just six field goals after halftime."We've already put last week behind us," said Jermaine Dixon, who had a team-high 13 points against West Virginia. "We are trying to get better from that game. We are anxious because it's our next game, not because it's West Virginia."Since that loss, Dixon has scored 33 points in victories over Seton Hall and Robert Morris. Leading scorer Ashton Gibbs (16.5 points per game) had 11 against the Mountaineers and the same versus Seton Hall, but finished with 20 in a 77-53 win over Robert Morris on Monday.West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler had 18 points and Devin Ebanks added 16 rebounds last week against Pitt. Both finished with 13 points versus Villanova, but Butler made 2 of 12 shots.Butler is averaging a team-leading 17.1 points this season, but 6.7 on 5-of-29 shooting in three career road games against Pitt.
|Avg Points Allowed||63.8||61.4|