West Virginia's inside game fizzles in home loss to Pitt
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Inconsistent outside shooting has forced West Virginia to pound the ball inside more, but it didn't seem to help Monday night.
"We might as well shoot it out there (outside) if they're not going to finish," WVU coach Bob Huggins said.
West Virginia's front court fell short for the Mountaineers in their 72-66 loss to Pitt on Monday night at the WVU Coliseum. Forwards Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli combined for half of West Virginia's 66 points and added 22 rebounds; the duo teamed to shoot 13 of 29 from the floor.
West Virginia called a number of sets to give their front court good looks. Kilicli made a habit of running off Jones' screens on the block, which gave the Mountaineers opportunities inside.
"That was our main focus to pound it inside, get something close and get us some easy baskets," Jones said.
The problem was West Virginia couldn't finish enough plays.
"They got shots. It wasn't like we didn't get shots," Huggins said. "But at bad times, we took ill-advised shots."
Kilicli went toe-to-toe with Pitt forwards Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor in the post. He looked strong early, mixing powerful drop steps with soft hook shots. However, Kilicli struggled down the stretch, visibly fatigued, and couldn't finish in crucial situations.
"I shot horrible," said Kilicli, who finished 6 of 13 from the floor after a 2 for 10 showing against Syracuse on Saturday. "It's under 50 percent."
Jones continues to do it all for the Mountaineers. He finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, scoring on a number of easy put-backs and strong moves in the lane --including a swift baseline spin that left defenders helpless. However, Jones went 0 for 5 from the beyond the arc.
As West Virginia continually pounded the ball in the post, Pitt's bench struggled to maintain its depth. Both Taylor and Zanna played most of the second half with three fouls. Nasir Robinson, who was charged with defending Jones, picked up his fourth foul with nine minutes left in the second half.
However, the Mountaineers couldn't capitalize on the Panthers' foul trouble down the stretch. Jones and Kilicli combined for the just five points in the final seven minutes.
"Once the game starts slipping away, everybody starts panicking," Kilicli said. "We start doing things we're not supposed to do, and everybody's mind goes out of the game."
Note: West Virginia redshirt freshman forward Kevin Noreen broke his ankle in the loss. Noreen limped off the court with 4:26 left in the first half and did not return. He appeared in all 23 games this season, starting one, and averaged 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds.
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