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Pittsburgh hands West Virginia first Big East loss

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- He didn't make a shot from beyond the 3-point
line, or inside it, either. A year after Pitt had no answer for
Kevin Pittsnogle, he had no points and not much impact in a rivalry
he personally decided last season.

Ronald Ramon and Aaron Gray scored 16 points each and
Pittsburgh (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) clamped down on West Virginia (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) with its
man-to-man defense, winning 57-53 Thursday night to snap a two-game
losing streak.

West Virginia (17-5, 8-1 Big East) shot miserably -- 34 percent
overall and 22 percent (6-of-27) from 3-point range -- in losing its
first conference game this season, yet still was within three
points in the final minute.

"Two more shots and we might have won this game," said coach
John Beilein, as surprised as anyone that the Mountaineers were
that close in a game they played so badly.

But Pitt star Carl Krauser, held to three points until then, hit
a driving layup with 39 seconds remaining and Pittsburgh (18-3,
7-3) held on to avoid its first three-game losing streak since late
in the 2000-01 season. Krauser scored five of his eight points in
the final minute.

Mike Gansey had 12 and Patrick Beilein 11 for West Virginia,
which had won 15 of its previous 16.

"They played tremendous defense on us," John Beilein said.
"They frustrate you. They're very good defenders, and we as a team
have to learn how to handle it when that happens. ... I don't like
the way we handled a lot of things, but we are going to learn from
this game."

Gansey could sense that frustration from his teammates, but he
said the Mountaineers can't get down after losing for only the
second time since late November.

"Nobody is going to be unbeaten the way the Big East is now,"
Gansey said.

Remarkably, it was the first time in the neighboring schools'
169-game and 100-year Backyard Brawl rivalry that both were
nationally ranked when they met -- though both teams spent most of
the game playing like they weren't.

Pittsnogle's 3-point shooting led two Mountaineers comeback
victories over Pitt last season in which he scored a combined 49
points, but he quickly got into foul trouble while missing a number
of off-balance shots from well beyond the 3-point line in the first
half.

The 6-foot-10 senior fouled out with 6:42 remaining after going
0-of-12, including six from 3-point range.

Pittsnogle, averaging 19.3 points, hadn't scored fewer than
eight this season and had been in double figures in 15 of his
previous 16. He hadn't been shut out since an 84-46 loss to
Villanova last season.

"We got a lot of people out on their shooters and didn't give
them many open looks," said Gray, who had eight rebounds but also
had seven of Pitt's 19 turnovers. "We think we're a good
man-to-man team and we can be physical."

As a result, the Mountaineers didn't score for the first 4˝
minutes and had only two points in the first 6˝ minutes of the
second half. They started the game 2-for-17 and were 1-for-11 from
3-point range 13 minutes in before finishing 18-of-53 overall.

Pitt played nearly as badly for the first 25 minutes as Krauser,
averaging 16.2 points, didn't score until there was 17:34 left to
play.

"We got away from our offense, and that's how the turnovers
came about," Ramon said. "But we started rotating the ball better
in the second half and getting some good shots."

The Panthers finally started getting some offensive rhythm with
about 15 minutes left, when freshman Sam Young scored on a putback
and a shot from the lane ahead of successive 3-pointers by Ramon
that made it 40-30 with 10:10 remaining. It was the first
double-figure lead for either team. Young had 10 points.

Until then, the game was reminiscent of West Virginia's 70-66
upset at Pittsburgh a season ago, when Pittsnogle scored 20 of his
22 points in the final 9˝ minutes as the Mountaineers rallied from
14 points down. But there was no such comeback this time.

Pitt remained unbeaten (14-0) at home while West Virginia lost
for the first time in eight road games. Ramon had four 3-pointers
while scoring a season high, but was five points off his career
high of 21.

The game attracted the governors of both states, Ed Rendell of
Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and nearly a dozen
Pittsburgh Steelers players, who were honored at halftime for
winning the Super Bowl. Several players, including Antwaan Randle
El, put up shots that missed as they left the court.