- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2006

There was an extremely logical explanation — and one common in the Big East in recent seasons — for the Georgetown basketball team’s 69-56 loss to West Virginia last night.

It got Pittsnogled.

Versatile West Virginia center Kevin Pittsnogle scored 25 points, utilizing his usual mix of potent perimeter shooting and slippery inside moves to help the No. 9 Mountaineers (18-5, 9-1 Big East) secure a regular-season sweep of the No. 15 Hoyas (17-5, 8-3) before a bipartisan crowd at MCI Center.

“They’re one of the hottest teams in the Big East right here, and for us to come in to play the way we did, it’s just going to help big time,” West Virginia forward Mike Gansey said. “Looking at tournament selection and seeing we swept Georgetown, that’s a big, big thing.”

It was a much-needed outing for Pittsnogle, who was coming off a scoreless effort Thursday in the Mountaineers’ loss at Pittsburgh. Pittsnogle shot 0-for-12 from the floor against the Panthers and heard plenty of jeers about his forgettable performance.

Pittsnogle wanted to play again almost immediately after the loss, but instead of dwelling on the frustrating night, he spent more time with his son Kwynsie, who was born Feb. 3, than worrying about basketball. He was clearly rejuvenated, hitting 10 of 15 shots against the Hoyas.

“Other people might sit around and talk about how bad I played,” Pittsnogle said. “I know how bad I played, but I was ready to just come out and play. I knew I could shoot. I can still shoot with the best of them.”

The 6-foot-11 senior was one of the breakout stars of last year’s NCAA tournament, fueling the Mountaineers’ run to the Elite Eight. He’s sustained that success this year as West Virginia has surged into a share of the Big East lead with Connecticut and Villanova.

One difference in his game is a willingness to go inside for his points rather than rely on outside jumpers. Yet despite being more difficult to defend than a year ago, Pittsnogle has also been a focus for opponents throughout the season.

“He may have been pressing too hard,” West Virginia coach John Beilein said. “We had a little talk and I said, ‘Kevin, you’re better when you let things come to you’, and he did that today.”

He set up the Hoyas with his outside shooting, making his three 3-pointers in the first 30 minutes. However, his strong finish began with a fadeaway jumper off an inbounds play, and he added a layup off a sweet pass from J.D. Collins to make it 56-51.

Pittsnogle clinched it moments later with two more shots. Collins again found him for a layup to bump the lead to 60-51, and when Pittsnogle converted again inside, he was greeted with a hug from Gansey.

“He can shoot anywhere past halfcourt, really,” Gansey said. “Especially today when he’s feeling it, it’s tough. He’s going to show a shot and people are going to jump, and he’s really improved his inside game.”

Pittsnogle also had a key defensive stop, drawing a charge from Georgetown’s Jeff Green just before halftime. Collins scored on the ensuing possession, trimming the deficit to 37-29 and sparking a 12-0 run.

That set up Pittsnogle’s strong finish, which quickly erased any memories of his worst game of the season.

“Everything I did was with a purpose tonight,” Pittsnogle said. “I tried to prove I could still play.”


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