Bearcat Beatdown

When West Virginia finally found its offensive rhythm, Cincinnati lost its beat. The No. 11 Mountaineers, led by Mike Gansey's 14 points and Kevin Pittsnogle's 12, hit seven 3-pointers in its first 10 second half shots to bury the Bearcats for a key 66-57 win.

In the process, WVU (17-4, 8-0 Big East) became just the fifth different conference school – and the first current one since Connecticut in 1993-94 – to win its first eight league games.

West Virginia was behind for the majority of the game before the barrage due to a combination of lackluster offense and Cincinnati's superior inside presence. WVU missed 13 of its first 17 3-point shots and actually trailed 33-30 at the break before tweaking its offense at halftime.

The change – more backdoor cuts to open up the outside shot – spurred a 24-12 run via the 3-point outburst. All five starters hit at least one 3-pointer. Sixth-man Patrick Beilein's three gave WVU its largest lead of the game, 57-45, with 10:40 remaining. Pittsnogle hit two 3-pointers to start the run.

"We wanted to play more aggressive in the second half," Gansey said. "Kevin hit some threes and our energy turned up."

Pittsnogle's 12 points, however, were his lowest since he scored eight in a Jan. 21 win at UCLA. His wife, Heather, gave birth on Friday at 5:30 p.m. to their first child, Kwynsie James.

"Energy-wise everything was hard," said Pittsnogle, who went just four of 17 from the field. "Mentally I could focus, and my teammates needed me. Now I just want to take the next few days and rest."

Pittsnogle had been up all of Thursday night with Heather, and also said he was not as focused against UCLA because of the possibility of a cross country trip back should his wife have gone into labor.

"Kevin is younger than most of our seniors, and some men could not handle all the attention the way he has," WVU coach John Beilein said. "He is a very special person."

Cincinnati (15-8, 4-5) was led by Erick Hicks' 22 points, two off his season high. He also had 11 rebounds for his 10th overall double-double and his eighth in the last 11 games. Jihad Muhammad and James White added 15 and 10 points, respectively.

Hicks and Gansey played together on the United States' gold medal-winning World University Games team this summer, both averaging 10 minutes per contest.

West Virginia led just 41-40 with 14:34 to play. Its 18-7 run over the next eight minutes gave it its final 12-point edge at 59-47 with 5:54 left. UC never got closer than seven points afterward.

WVU hit five of six free throws down the stretch the seal the win. The lone miss was by Gansey, who has been the only player in the past two games at the Coliseum to miss a free throw for either team.

WVU led by as many as six points, 12-6, in the first half before UC went on a 13-3 run for a 19-15 edge with 7:56 left in the period. Hicks scored six points in the push, while Muhammed added five, including UC's only 3-pointer of the half.

The teams then traded leads five more times before Cincinnati led 33-30 at the break. UC had lost just one game this season when it led at halftime.

"It's hard for this team to play catch-up against a quality team in this environment," Cincinnati interim coach Andy Kennedy said. "I thought our shot selection was a little bit poor. We're dependent on making perimeter jumpers and those things come and go."

Cincinnati, last in the Big East in field goal percentage at 39.1 percent, actually out-shot West Virginia, 41.7 to 35.9 percent, from the field. UC had a 40-20 edge in points in the paint. There were 11 lead chances and three ties.

The Bearcats had 11 turnovers by halftime and finished with 18. It averaged 11.7 per game entering and had committed just 12 over its last two games. It had single-digit turnovers in five of its last six games.

"Today's win was much-needed before the road trip," Beilein said. "I can't really say I am comfortable now. I think our schedule has helped."

West Virginia, which has played five of eight Big East games at home, now goes on the road for three consecutive games before hosting No. 1 Connecticut. It must still play at No. 9 Pitt, Syracuse and No. 17 Georgetown in its remaining eight Big East games. Five of those are on the road.

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