POG: West Virginia - Pitt

West Virginia got another big night from freshman forward Devin Ebanks as the Mountaineers crushed Pitt's hopes for a second-straight Big East tournament championship.

Someone might want to check the locker of Devin Ebanks for a pair of ruby slippers. Because for West Virginia's standout freshman forward, there has truly been no place like home for this week's annual Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. For the second straight night, Ebanks was the star as WVU advanced to the tournament semifinals with a 74-60 win over Pitt.

In Wednesday night's win over Notre Dame, the native of nearby Long Island City, N.Y. grabbed a jaw-dropping 18 rebounds to lead the way for the Mountaineers. On Thursday night against the heavily-favored Panthers, it was his offense that stole the show. Ebanks scored a career-high 20 points to pace West Virginia.

The ever-improving freshman hit a couple of nice turnaround jump shots, and punctuated the win with a fast break dunk over Pitt's Jermaine Dixon off of a nice feed from Darryl "Truck" Bryant.


NET BURNERS

  • For the past several weeks, the Mountaineers have played a good bit of 1-3-1 zone in an effort to diversify their defensive attack. Apparently, the Panthers haven't watched any of the tapes from those games. West Virginia played the zone almost exclusively in the second half and stymied the veteran-laden Panthers.

    WVU assistant coach Billy Hahn noted on his postgame interview with play-by-play voice Tony Caridi that in order to tailor the zone to fit Pitt, WVU's coaching staff watched tapes from the John Beilein era. The zone was the defense of choice for Beilein, who coached the Mountaineers from 2002-07.

  • The Mountaineers got a big lift off the bench from sophomore forward John Flowers, who had one of the best games of his career on Thursday night. Flowers's tip-in as the halftime horn sounded gave WVU a two-point lead heading into the locker room, and seemed to give the team even more energy than it already had.

    Flowers finished with nine points and five rebounds in 22 minutes.

  • While West Virginia didn't need any wins in the Big East tournament to cement its reservation in the Big Dance, it certainly doesn't hurt to get as many as possible in the Garden. A loss to the Panthers would not have inflicted any damage to WVU, but a win puts the Mountaineers in even better position looking ahead. The Mountaineers are now in play for a seed as high as six.

    One question that might be asked now is whether or not the loss takes away a potential No. 1 seed for Pitt? If it ultimately does cost the Panthers that, the win for WVU fans will be even more sweet.


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