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Pitt handles West Virginia to claim Backyard Brawl

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Pittsburgh's Levance Fields, front, has a shot blocked as he is fouled by West Virginia's J.D. Collins in the first half of Pitt's win Thursday.

Pittsburgh’s Levance Fields, front, has a shot blocked as he is fouled by West Virginia’s J.D. Collins in the first half of Pitt’s win Thursday.

Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

Ronald Ramon and Aaron Gray scored 16 points each and No. 14 Pittsburgh shook off a two-game losing streak to perplex No. 9 West Virginia with its man-to-man defense, holding star Kevin Pittsnogle scoreless in a 57-53 victory Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

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.

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.

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.

As a result, the Mountaineers didn't score for the first 4 1/2 minutes and had only two points in the first 6 1/2 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.

But Pitt played nearly as badly for most of the game as Krauser, averaging 16.2, didn't score until 17:34 remaining in the game.

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.

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 1/2 minutes as the Mountaineers rallied from 14 points down.

But there was no such Pittsnogle outburst this time as 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, hadn't scored fewer than eight points 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.

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 and Ike Taylor, each put up shots that missed as they left the court.

NO. 13 UCLA 50, WASHINGTON STATE 30: At Pullman, Wash., Jordan Farmar scored 20 points to help UCLA remain atop the Pacific-10 Conference. UCLA (20-4, 10-2 Pac-10) has won four in a row and recorded its first 20-win season since 2001-02. Washington State (10-10, 3-8) was coming off a big win over No. 16 Washington that swept the season series from the in-state rival. However, after WSU beat Washington the first time, the Cougars lost their next six games.

NO. 15 GEORGTOWN 64, ST. JOHN'S 41: At Washington, Brandon Bowman scored 16 points, Roy Hibbert had 14 and Georgetown's defense throttled the St. John's attack from the opening whistle. Bowman and Hibbert were a combined 12-for-16 from the field, a one-two punch that accounted for 30 of Georgetown's first 50 points as the 15th-ranked Hoyas (17-4, 8-2 Big East) avoided a letdown in between games against ranked teams Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Georgetown won its seventh straight game. Daryl Hill scored seven points — all in one second-half stretch after the game was well out of reach — to lead the Red Storm (10-11, 3-7), who shot 33 percent and had as many turnovers as made field goals (16). St. John's has lost five straight since handing Pitt its first loss of the season on Jan. 21.

NO. 19 OHIO STATE 94, NO. 22 MICHIGAN 85: At Ann Arbor, Mich., Jamar Butler scored a career-high 20 points for the Buckeyes' first win at Crisler Arena since 2002. The victory moved Ohio State (17-3, 6-3) into a three-way tie with Michigan State and Illinois for second place in the Big Ten. The three teams trail Iowa by a half-game. Courtney Sims had 26 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for the Wolverines (16-5, 6-4), who lost consecutive games for the first time this season. Michigan guard Dion Harris had 14 points before spraining his right ankle midway through the second half. The Wolverines also were without swingman Lester Abram, who missed his second straight game with an injured left ankle.