WVU Colder Than Weather In Loss to Panthers

The temperatures dropped outside the Coliseum, and apparently someone left the windows open as the West Virginia's shooting went cold in an 80-61 loss to Pitt.

The excellent Panther defense forced WVU into 40% shooting for the game, including a frigid 22.7% from three point range in the relatively easy victory.

WVU (9-5, 1-2) could never get their offense into high gear, scoring only 28 first half points and falling behind by twelve at the break.

West Virginia was also unable to mount any of their signature comebacks, and much of that was due to the solid, if unspectacular, defense played by the visitors. The Mountaineers held Pitt to only a single Brandin Knight three pointer over a four minute stretch early in the second half, but WVU was only able to cut into Pitt's lead by four points. That margin, which was 11 at the 15:11 mark, was as close as WVU would come the rest of the way.

"They're definitely a top five team," Mountaineer swingman Drew Schifino said after the game. "They play with maturity, and they're strong and experienced. They have stars and role players, and they all play well together."

Pitt (13-1, 3-0) put the game away in the first half, going on a 19-4 run late in the opening period. The Panthers rode several steals and uncharacteristic West Virginia turnovers during the stretch.

"They got 18 points off nine of our turnovers," Schifino noted afterwards. "That was a big difference in the game."

Head coach John Beilein was disappointed in his team's performance, noting that the offense was much more inefficient than in previous games.

"In the first half we didn't execute what we planned in the huddle. We would go out there and one guy would be off of what we were trying to do."

On the other hand, Pitt's offense was on cruise control in the hands of all-conference guard Brandin Knight. Depsite scoring just six points, Knight orchestrated an offense that always seemed to make the right pass at the right time. The Panthers passed especially well out of the low post double teams set by WVU, and often found cutters and backside spot up shooters with plenty of room to operate.

In all, it was a display of what makes Pitt one of the top teams in the country.

"Pitt is for real," Beilein noted. They played beautiful defense. They have the qualities of teams that really go far in March."

On the bright side, WVU did hit 16 of their 20 free throws for an 80% success rate.

WVU will try to bounce back from their two game conference losing streak on a visit to Boston College next Sunday.

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