West Virginia vs Pittsburgh

Mountaineers stun second-ranked Panthers in Big East quarters

CBSSports.com wire reports

Big East bracket

NEW YORK -- DeJuan Blair spent most of Thursday night sitting on the bench, mired in foul trouble and watching Pittsburgh struggle mightily against overmatched West Virginia.

Now he'll get to sit around and watch the rest of the Big East tournament, too.

  Parrish: Pitt should still be a No. 1 seed

Devin Ebanks scored a career-high 20 points to lead the scrappy Mountaineers to a stunning 74-60 upset of the second-ranked Panthers, knocking out the defending champions and advancing to the semifinals for the second season in a row.

West Virginia will face No. 18 Syracuse, which outlasted No. 3 Connecticut 127-117 in six overtimes -- tied for the second-longest game in Division I history.

Blair, the league's co-Player of the Year, managed just 14 points and five rebounds before fouling out with 1:17 left in the game.

"Of course you feel down right now, the next couple hours, the next couple days. You're going to feel down watching the Big East, watching everybody," Blair said. "We weren't prepared, the foul trouble, we just didn't grind it out like we usually do."

Alex Ruoff added 18 points and Da'Sean Butler had 16 for West Virginia (23-10), which might be the hottest team in the nation's deepest conference. The Mountaineers have won four of their last five, their lone loss coming to No. 5 Louisville last weekend.

After leading 36-34 at the break, coach Bob Huggins slapped on his confounding 1-3-1 zone defense and the Panthers (28-4) struggled to shoot over the top.

Pittsburgh went without a 3-pointer for the first time all season, finishing 0-for-8 from beyond the arc, and was outrebounded for the first time since Jan. 25.

The opponent that time? West Virginia.

"I think we were the aggressor. I think that's big," Ruoff said. "In the first two games we matched up against them, we had stretches where they kind of out-manned us."

Sam Young scored 15 points to lead the Panthers, whose chances of securing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament took a big hit in what had been a friendly venue.

Pittsburgh had advanced to seven of the last eight tournament championships, winning four games in four days last year to capture the title, and was 23-8 at Madison Square Garden since 2001.

So much for that.

The Mountaineers shot 44.2 percent from the field against one of the league's best defenses, and improved to 17-0 this season when scoring at least 70 points. They advanced to face either No. 3 Connecticut or No. 18 Syracuse on Friday night.

"I think the one thing I've really stressed in the two years I've been here is to learn how to play," Huggins said, "learn how to play the game. I'm not big on run here, run here, and have a whole lot of things that are concrete. I just want them to play basketball."

Unfortunately for Blair, a big part of the game is the officials.

The bruising forward picked up his second foul 4:01 into the game and took a seat beside coach Jamie Dixon, who kept the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Blair on the bench the rest of the first half, even as the Mountaineers slowly built a lead.

Levance Fields, whose assist-to-turnover ratio is the best in the nation, kept Pittsburgh close by repeatedly finding open teammates under the basket.

The stocky senior guard from Brooklyn hit Young on a soaring alley-oop jam with 7:41 left in the first half, then a couple minutes later made a nifty touch pass to Gilbert Brown cutting to the basket for another easy dunk and a 27-26 lead.

Butler, West Virginia's leading scorer, got in his own foul trouble after picking up his third trying to post up on offense with 1:20 left before halftime, prompting a foot-stomping tantrum by Huggins in front of the Mountaineers bench.

Butler sat to start the second half, but it sure didn't make much difference.

Ebanks' highlight slam over the outstretched arm of Jermaine Dixon made it 45-37 just over three minutes in, and a few minutes later Blair picked up a technical foul for shoving Ruoff after a missed shot underneath the Pittsburgh hoop.

Ruoff made both free throws, setting West Virginia off on an 8-0 spurt. By the time the senior guard made a layup with 8:59 to go, the Mountaineers led 61-47 and a sizable contingent in the corner of the arena dressed in yellow was roaring in approval.

They coasted from there, right into the tournament semifinals, one step closer to their first conference championship since 1984.

"We were outplayed," Dixon said, running his hands through his slicked-back hair. "It's just one of those games where you have to do a better job. West Virginia is a very good team. They only lose to good people."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
John Flowers hugs Devin Ebanks (3), who knocks down a career-high 20 points in the upset victory.  (AP)
John Flowers hugs Devin Ebanks (3), who knocks down a career-high 20 points in the upset victory. (AP)
Related Links
West Virginia (23-10) «363874
Pittsburgh #2 (28-4)342660
WV:Devin Ebanks 20 Pts
WV:Devin Ebanks 7 Reb
WV:Da'Sean Butler 4 Ast
PITT:S. Young 15 Pts
PITT:L. Fields 6 Reb
PITT:L. Fields 7 Ast

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PittsburghWest Virginia
S. Young
D. Ebanks
West Virginia Mountaineers
D. Ebanks, F405-910-1173220
A. Ruoff, G387-144-412218
D. Butler, F334-136-834416
D. Bryant, G192-40-03315
W. Smith, F180-22-22142
J. Flowers, F224-50-05129
K. Jones, F201-50-03012
C. Thoroughman, F100-02-22122
J. Sowards, FDid Not Play
J. Mazzulla, GDid Not Play
J. West, GDid Not Play
C. Payne, GDid Not Play
W. Thomas, GDid Not Play
D. Proby, FDid Not Play
Totals 23-5224-2726151874
Pittsburgh Panthers
L. Fields, G383-100-06716
S. Young, F386-173-450015
J. Dixon, G352-51-22225
T. Biggs, F203-40-05236
D. Blair, F184-56-850514
B. Wanamaker, G192-43-31057
G. Brown, G-F171-31-20013
A. Gibbs, G111-20-01122
G. McGhee, C30-00-00010
N. Robinson, F11-10-00002
T. Frye, GDid Not Play
T. Woodall, GDid Not Play
R. Tiesi, GDid Not Play
S. Brown, FDid Not Play
D. Miller, FDid Not Play
Totals 23-5114-1925122060
Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Seton Hall10-821-1244
St. Johns7-1114-19140

TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
N. Carolina14-433-75
Florida St.12-626-914
Notre Dame12-626-1023
Va. Tech10-822-1148
Miami (Fla.)10-821-1242
Wake Forest9-919-1439
Georgia Tech8-1021-16106
NC State4-1415-17141
Boston College2-169-23219
Other games
PROV 55 Final
Louisville 73
STL 47 Final
XAV 66
Baylor 71 Final
Kansas 64
GT 86 Final
MU 75 Final
Arizona 56 Final
Ariz St 68
AF 69 Final
BYU 80
Stanford 73 Final
Wash 85
Tulane 41 Final
Memphis 51
Okla St 71 Final
Oklahoma 70
Syracuse 127 Final
UConn 117
TXTCH 60 Final
Missouri 81
Wash St 53 Final