MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Nasir Robinson scored 15 points and No. 4 Pittsburgh overcame an awful start to beat No. 25 West Virginia 71-66 on Monday night.
Pittsburgh (22-2, 10-1 Big East) got a balanced attack without leading scorer Ashton Gibbs, who is out up to two weeks with a left knee injury. Gary McGhee had 13 points, Travon Woodall added 12 and Brad Wanamaker scored 11 for the Panthers.
Pittsburgh went hard to the glass after being held to a season-low 23 points in the first half. The Panthers went ahead to stay with 8 minutes left in the game to improve to 5-0 on the road in the Big East and continue their best overall start in conference play.
This is the 10th straight season Pitt has won at least 20 games overall and at least 10 in the Big East, the conference's longest current streak.
Deniz Kilicli scored a career-high 19 points and Kevin Jones added 12 for the Mountaineers (15-8, 6-5), who have lost four of their last five.
Without Gibbs, Pittsburgh had little outside shooting presence — and it didn't matter. The Panthers, who lead the nation in rebounding margin, outrebounded West Virginia 40-28 on the strength of 18 offensive boards.
From start to finish, Pittsburgh pounded the ball inside, piling up 42 points in the paint against a Mountaineers defense that eventually wore down.
Pittsburgh had just three turnovers after halftime and shot 61 percent (17 of 28) from the field in the second half and 44 percent for the game.
West Virginia guard Casey Mitchell played 24 minutes in a backup role after being reinstated a game earlier from an indefinite suspension, but he wasn't much help. The Mountaineers' leading scorer was limited to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.
West Virginia was aching for any kind of offense after managing just 50 points in Saturday's loss at No. 9 Villanova and Kilicli provided it.
He scored on a left-handed baby hook and made a three-point play 25 seconds apart to bring West Virginia within 59-58 with 4:03 remaining.
Gilbert Brown made a layup and a three-point play during Pittsburgh's ensuing 12-4 run. Robinson's dunk with 19 seconds left capped the run and put Pittsburgh ahead 71-62.
West Virginia scored eight of the game's first 10 points, fell behind only once before halftime and held the Panthers to one field goal over the final 5 minutes of the half. Pittsburgh shot 29 percent (9 of 31) from the field and trailed 25-23 at halftime.
The Panthers matched their first-half output in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
Woodall, Gibbs' replacement, put the Panthers ahead to stay, 47-46, on a jumper with 8:16 remaining.
But like most games in the Backyard Brawl, West Virginia managed to stay close until the Panthers' decisive run.