MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — What a difference a week makes.
What a difference a point guard makes.
Over a week ago, Pitt was struggling at the bottom of the Big East, having gone winless in seven straight league games.
Tray Woodall returned to the Panthers lineup after suffering groin and stomach pulls four games ago, and before one could say "Beat West Virginia," the Panthers (14-9, 3-7) had won their third straight Big East game Monday night.
Woodall scored a game-high 24 points as Pitt dashed West Virginia 72-66 in this version of the Backyard Brawl, handing the Mountaineers (15-8, 5-5) their third consecutive Big East loss.
Ashton Gibbs added 15 points for the Panthers.
West Virginia's Kevin Jones produced his 16th double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Darryl "Truck" Bryant had 14 points, Deniz Kilicli finished with 12 and Jabarie Hinds had 10.
Woodall has started the Panthers' last four games, leading them to wins in the last three over Providence, Georgetown and now West Virginia, after being sidelined for 11 of the previous 12 games. His breakthrough came against Providence last Wednesday, when he scored 17 points with nine assists, and he had 10 assists against Georgetown on Saturday.
Against West Virginia the junior converted 8 of 12 field goal attempts and 3 of 5 from the 3-point line.
Woodall also helped lead a Pitt fast break that tallied eight points to none for the Mountaineers.
"I just wanted to play aggressive," said Woodall. "They weren't really keying on me. They were expecting me to create for my teammates, but I was playing aggressive and I was lucky to hit some shots."
"I thought Tray was terrific," said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. "We went to a little bit different offense and were more patient as the game wore on and more aware of what we wanted to do. We withstood their (West Virginia's) run early. We talked about them pressuring and overplaying and didn't handle it well early, but once we understood what we wanted to do, we took care of the ball the rest of the game.
"A point guard is important. It allows guys to play their spots and gets guys less minutes (for easy substituting). We're feeling more comfortable and we're getting better. Some teams do and some teams don't. We're a young team that has gotten better."
West Virginia led 17-9 in the first half when Pitt went to work, outscoring the Mountaineers 9-2 to trail 19-18 with 6:08 to go.
The teams went through four more lead changes and two ties en route to Pitt's 33-29 halftime advantage.
Pitt scored the first two baskets of the second half and led 37-31 before Dante Taylor was fouled while making a layup.
Official Sean Corbin called a technical foul against West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, and after Gibbs made one of the two technical shots and Taylor made his free throw, the Panthers led 41-31 at the 17:40 mark.
"In my career, 30-plus years, I've had a bunch of technicals. I've never had one for yelling at a player for not making a rotation. I was frustrated. I've got a four-year guy who doesn't make a rotation and I'm yelling at him, and this guy T's me from across the court.
"(The official) couldn't even have thought that I was yelling at him. He was not even in my field of vision. I was yelling at 'Truck' about making a rotation," Huggins said.
West Virginia outscored Pitt 14-7 over the next seven minutes to trail 48-45 on a jumper by Jones with 10:45 to go.
The Mountaineers cut it to 54-52 when Kilicli blocked a Pitt shot, which Hinds turned into a layup with 8:12 remaining.
Jones' jumper at 7:31 again pulled West Virginia within two, 56-54.
Then Pitt got a layup from Lamar Patterson and a free throw by J.J. Moore to go ahead 59-54 with 5:02 left.
Gary Browne netted a pair of free throws for West Virginia, but Pitt answered with baskets by Talib Zanna and Gibbs to go back on top by seven points with 3:36 showing.
Kilicli picked up a loose ball under the basket and pulled West Virginia within 70-66 with 17 seconds left. But Keaton Miles was tagged with his fifth foul and Pitt's Gibbs converted both free throws to put the game away.
Kevin Noreen broke an ankle in the first half and spent the second in the Mountaineers' training room.