Men's Basketball, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU dominates in paint, blows past Pitt 81-56 in the Backyard Brawl

PITTSBURGH — Emmitt Matthews hesitated for just a moment, a second to see if any of his teammates were going to make a cut toward the rim.

They did not, and so Matthews took it upon himself.

One power dribble, two big steps and then one thunderous dunk that saw his momentum carry most of his body under the backboard.

“I was waiting for him to look at me, because I was out at half court yelling and screaming,” Erik Stevenson said. “He wouldn’t look at me and I got pissed off. I was trying to celebrate with him.”


Then, with a quick glance toward the Pitt student section, Matthews departed some words of wisdom of sorts “Man, it’s going to be a long night.”

For the Panthers, it surely was.

West Virginia, behind a complete team performance that saw good things in the paint, as well as the perimeter, took out rival Pitt 81-56 on Friday inside the Petersen Events Center.

Then again, when it comes to the most recent games of this rivalry, what else is new? The Mountaineers (2-0) have made a living of making the Panthers look bad.

West Virginia won its sixth consecutive game in the series between the two schools separated by just 82 miles of interstate.

During the six consecutive wins — four have come on Pitt’s campus —  WVU has won all but one by double figures. Its average margin of victory in the streak is 15.3 points per game.

It’s been a decade since the Panthers tasted a victory against WVU, their last one coming in 2012 when both schools were in the Big East.

Much has changed since then, especially for the Panthers, because Sam Young, Charles Smith and Jerome Lane aren’t walking through that door anytime soon.

“They just smacked us in the face,” Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said. “They create chaos with their defense. We turned it over. We didn’t display the poise that’s necessary to have a chance to win against a team like that.”

WVU head coach Bob Huggins didn’t go as far as calling it chaos, rather just his players not knowing where to go and simply chasing after the open man.

Whatever it was, Pitt (1-1) was forced into 19 turnovers and the Mountaineers dominated in the paint 36-22.

As for the inside and outside. Mohamed Wague came off the bench and took a major step forward in his first season at WVU out of junior college.

Wague finished with 11 points and four rebounds, but getting in foul trouble limited him to just 13 minutes.

Stevenson and Joe Toussaint took care of the outside.

Toussaint had 18 points and five assists off the bench and Stevenson chipped in 16 points.

“Our guards are athletic, so they can go make plays around the rim,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “We try to get guys to do what they’re good at doing and keep them away from things they can’t.”

WVU took control of the game late in the first half and never looked back.

The Mountaineers shot a blazing 65% (17 of 26) from the floor in the first half and then held the Panthers to just 20 points in the second half.

“This is bigger for our younger guys,” Stevenson said. “We’ve got some older guys who have played in some big-time atmospheres, so it was good for the (young) guys to see this and to stay locked in.”

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