Laid Back

Providence was West Virginia's final pushover before a highly-anticipated match-up at UCLA. It looked like it.

Kevin Pittsnogle scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his second career double-double as the No. 12 Mountaineers used a workmanlike effort to beat Providence 64-48 Tuesday for their 11th straight victory.

WVU (13-3, 5-0 Big East) might have looked past the last-place Friars (7-8, 0-4). It missed six layups and hit just six 3-pointers one game after making a school-record 20 against Marquette.

"We didn't shoot as well as we did (against Marquette) and still won by 15 or something," Pittsnogle said. "It's a great confidence builder for our defense."

It also shot just 42.6 percent, but it didn't matter against Providence because the Friars shot an even worse 38.9 percent.

"It's really good news that we're not living or dying by the three," WVU coach John Beilein said. "And now we can look at the next game. Everybody knows who we play."

That was a reference to finally being able to focus on No. 18 UCLA. The Mountaineers are on their longest winning streak since they won 22 in a row in 1988-89. West Virginia is also off to its best Big East start in its 11 years in the league. It had never won more than its first two games previously.

That still pales in comparison to UCLA's NCAA-record 88 game streak.

"The schedule is a little bit different this year," Beilein said. "Don't give us too much credit yet."

It'll get its chance after overwhelming the Friars with Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey. Gansey scored a game-high 18 points. The duo are the Big East's leading scoring tandem, averaging 22.8 and 21.8 points, respectively. Both also rank first and second in Big East 3-point shooting percentage.

One of the two had led WVU in scoring in all but one game this season. Both are Naismith finalists.

Pittsnogle might miss the UCLA game. His wife, Heather, is more than eight months pregnant with their first child, a boy. He said he will fly back or stay behind if she begins contractions. The Feb. 1 due date has tempered his enthusiasm.

"She can go anytime, that's why I am kind of nervous about it," Pittsnogle said of the trip. "Hopefully it doesn't happen when I'm out there. I'll be thinking about it. But when I'm on the court basketball is all I think about."

The same could be said for West Virginia. It led Providence 20-16 with 4:36 left in the half, then used three 3-pointers in its final five baskets for a 33-21 edge at the break. The Mountaineers secured the win with a 12-3 run starting at the 18-minute mark.

Providence pulled within 35-27 before Pittsnogle and Gansey combined for nine straight WVU points. Frank Young added four points in the push. He finished with eight.

Randall Hanke led Providence with 14 points. Donnie McGrath added nine.

WVU's biggest lead was 56-37 on Young's tip-in with 7:58 remaining. Providence never got closer than 11 points afterward. The Mountaineers have not trailed in two games since having to rally from double-digit deficits in its first two Big East games.

The Friars are among the Big East's youngest teams, starting three freshmen and a sophomore. Four of WVU's five starters are seniors.

"We got our freshmen playing against seniors," Providence coach Tim Welsh said. "You can see how far they've come. They're a well-oiled machine. It's all been written before – just take the quotes from the last 10 coaches."

Providence started 0-4 in conference play for the second time in as many years. It lost its first seven conference games last year.

Providence is last in the Big East in scoring margin. WVU is first.

West Virginia is second in the nation in turnovers per game and had just seven against 17 assists. Providence had 18 and scored just three points in the last 4:30 of the game.

During a Providence free throw with 2:56 left part of the student section sang "Happy Birthday" to WVU forward Jo Herber, who turned 23.

"I saw a couple signs," Herber said. "I might have heard them from the free throw line in the second half. Whoever sang to me, thank you."

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