Basement Battle: Tech rips WVU 78-63

In a battle of last place Big East teams, Virginia Tech proved it was vastly superior. The Hokies, in winning a Big East road game for the first time, used a career-high 23 points from Bryant Matthews to beat West Virginia 78-63 Wednesday.

"We needed this one," Virginia Tech head coach Ricky Stokes said. "It gives us new life, something to play for down the stretch. We can still catch Providence with five games left."

West Virginia and Virginia Tech are in last place in its divisions of the Big East. Tech trails Providence by four games and Villanova by three with five to play. WVU is mathematically eliminated from the Big East Tournament, which does not include last place squads.

The win was the Hokies' (8-16, 2-10 Big East East) first road victory in 13 conference games and first road win in 19 games overall. WVU (8-15, 1-10 Big East West) has lost 13 of its last 14, while Tech won for just the third time in 17 games to snap a five-game losing streak in the series.

"When you lose like that, and the losses keep coming and coming, you wonder what is going on," Jon Smith said. "You just have to find it in yourself to keep playing. Both teams are just trying to come together, and we are a bit ahead."

The Hokies led 13-6 early and dominated West Virginia throughout the game. Tech coasted, off runs of seven and eight points, to a 44-31 lead at the half.

An 11-2 three-minute run in the second half then gave Virginia Tech its largest lead, 64-41, with 13:34 left. Brian Chase, Carlos Dixon and Carlton Carter hit three pointers during the push.

The teams traded baskets for the next five minutes before WVU, down by 20, put in its walk-on players, conceding the game.

"The road win feels great," Matthews, who also had 11 rebounds and seven steals, said. "We felt in our hearts we should win. They are good, but we are the better team."

Dixon scored 15 points and Chase added 13 for Tech. Chris Moss, a usual starter, came off the bench to lead WVU with 21 points. He is still recovering from a stomach injury sustained the previous game against Seton Hall. He played 31 minutes.

"It was one of poorest performances I have ever had to sit through as coach," West Virginia head coach Gale Catlett said. "It is obvious that our players did not play with any understanding of basketball. It is obvious that our players did not play with spirit and they did not care about shirt they wore. It is perplexing to me. There is no pride."

The two teams repeatedly turned the ball over, combining for 37 turnovers against 27 assists. Virginia Tech shot just seven free throws, making five, to WVU's 16 for 21 effort.

It was Tech's largest margin of victory over WVU since a 114-80 win in 1975-76.

"We had good focus, we played hard," Stokes said. "This is a great rivalry, and Matthews really helped us. He had a great line, finally shot the ball well and was lively."

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