Tuesday, February 10, 2009


February 10, 2009

ESPN kicked off Rivalry Week with a Big Monday match-up between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Pittsburgh Panthers. It was the 177th rendition of the 'Backyard Brawl' on the hardwood.

From the beginning, the game had little flow as constant stoppages for whistles, usually fouls called well away from the basket, had the game stopping and starting often as the Officials Put Themselves in the Game (Times West Virginian) and the Refs Cost the Fans a Good Game (Post-Gazette) between two Big East rivals.

While niether team was whistled for an absurd amount of fouls or sent to the line in any one-sided or over of abundance, the fouls impacted DeJuan Blair (just 16 minutes of action), Da'Sean Butler (just 18 minutes before fouling out) and Alex Ruoff (24 minutes before fouling out with over 7 minutes left) the most, leaving WVU in a Foul Mood After Another Loss to Pitt (Daily Mail).

As an Upsetting of a Loss (Times West Virginian) as it was because of the foul frustration, the Lack of Offense is Killing the Mountaineers (Post-Gazette) in big games. Last night, WVU shot just 40%, 21-52, for the game in the 70-59 loss as Pitt handles WVU (Charleston Gazette).

Getting Blair in foul trouble has been a recipe that Villanova and Louisville have used to defeat Pitt in their only two losses. Blair played just five minutes in the first half before sitting the remainder of the half with two fouls. He did not pick up #3 until 11 minutes into the second half, but #4 came with it as his frustration over a foul led to a technical foul. After Alex Ruoff made one of two free throws, Pitt led 52-41, nearly an identical situation to the loss at UL where Pitt saw a 10-point second half evaporate when Blair went to the bench with four fouls at the 8-minute mark.

However, this time, Blair Sits and Doesn't Foul Up the Panthers (Observer-Reporter) as Pitt quickly went on an 8-2 run extending the lead to 60-43 and Ruoff fouled out in the process. The run was sparked by Levance Fields, the Panthers brilliand 'Fields' General (Beaver County Times), scoring on a lay-up and then drawing the fifth foul on Ruoff. Fields finished the game with 13 points and 7 assists despite sitting much of the 1st half because of an early two fouls.

On a Busy Night for the Whistle Blowers (Charleston Gazette), one star was able to stay on the floor and make his presence felt throughout as Sam Young scored a game-high 20 points as Pitt Survives With Victory over WVU (Tribune-Review), sweeping the pair of games from their rivals from the south. Young also finished with 7 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Pitt flexed their impressive rebounding muscles, out-boarding WVU 39-23 in the game.

Blair finished with just eight points and nine rebounds in his 16 minutes. Butler was just two for 10 from the field for WVU, finishing with four points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists in 18 minutes. Ruoff led WVU with 17 points and freshman Devin Ebanks scored a career-high 16 in the game.



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