Mike Gansey's first half burst and second half steal helped WVU subdue feisty South Florida and earn our player of the game honors.
Gansey, held scoreless for the game's first 13 minutes, erupted for nine consecutive points in the first half to help WVU build a nine point lead. Gansey scored four consecutive baskets in transition, and sparked two of the hoops with steals of his own from the top of West Virginia
's 1-3-1 defense. He converted one of the layups while being fouled, and buried the resulting free throw to account for the seventh point in the nine point spree.
Gansey was also stellar on defense, helping force several USF turnovers that the Mountaineers turned into points. Perhaps his biggest play, however, came on a simple out of bounds situation.
With the Bulls attempting to throw the ball deep to the wing from under their own basket, Gansey leaped high and snared the pass, then keyed a transition set that led to a Patrick Beilein layup to put WVU up by nine points at 55-46. As it turned out, WVU would need every one of those points as it struggled to hold off the Bulls down the stretch.
Gansey added five rebounds and four steals on the evening.
Kudos to the USF administration for having a moment of silence before the game in honor of the 12 miners lost in Tallmansville, W. Va., earlier in the week. It was something Sugar Bowl officials couldn't be bothered with, so it was indeed nice to have a fellow Big East school acknowledge the horrible losses suffered by the families in Upshur County.
Kevin Pittsnogle showed that he is WVU's best and most consistent free throw shooter by again burying a pair of chances in a clutch situation. With WVU leading by just two points, KP drilled two no-doubt free throws to give the Mountaineers a four-point lead with 19 seconds to go.