Mountaineers Win SEC East

West Virginia completed an improbable two game sweep of SEC East powers when they knocked off Tennessee 65-62 at the Coliseum on Saturday.

The Mountaineers (7-1) trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half before mounting a gradual second half rally.

Led by sophomore Drew Schifino, who tallied 14 points in each half, WVU gradually whittled away at Tennessee's thirteen point halftime advantage before finally tying the contest at 58 with 4:47 to play.

A pair of Ron Slay free throws gave the lead back to Tennessee, but WVU's Kevin Pittsnogle banked home a three pointer with one second left on the shot clock to give WVU a three point lead with 2:53 to play. West Virginia never trailed after that point, although Tennessee had two chances to tie the game in the closing secons. However, misses by Slay and C.J. Watson sealed the upset for WVU.

In the opening half, uncharacteristic sloppy play from the WVU offense, coupled with Tennessee's ability to exploit their height and weight advantage, led to the Mountaineers' large deficit. The Volunteers (4-2) shot 54.8% from the field and forced 10 WVU turnovers as they built a 13 point halftime lead.

In addition to Schifino's 28, Kevin Pittsnogle added 15 points on the strnegth of 4-5 shooting from three point range, and Joe Herber tossed in 11. WVU was outrebounded 41-23, but, as head coahc John Beilein pointed out, the winner of the game is determined by the final score, not the final rebounding totals.

West Virginia has a week off before travelling to Las Vegas for the Jim Thorpe Classic. WVU will play against UNLV and Gardner-Webb on December 28 and 29. The tournament will use several experimental rules being tested by the NCAA this year, including wider free throw lanes.

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