WVU seeks sixth consecutive Backyard Brawl victory Friday at Pittsburgh

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia and Pittsburgh will share the floor for the 189th time Friday evening at the Petersen Events Center and recent history has favored the Mountaineers in the series. The Mountaineers are seeking their sixth consecutive win over the neighbors to the north. They are enjoying the longest streak in WVU’s favor since 1964-1968. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. Friday.

Ten years removed from their twice-annual meetings in Big East play, WVU head coach Bob Huggins says history lessons about the rivalry have not been a part of the team’s pregame preparations.

“I don’t think they understand the rivalry. We don’t have guys who grew up watching the rivalry or hearing about the rivalry. They don’t know anything about it. We haven’t talked about it at all. We haven’t spent five seconds taking about it,” Huggins said.

“When I played here and we played Pitt, it was a whole lot different than playing Pitt in the Big East. When I played here, it was a big-time rivalry. That’s when they were throwing carp on the floor and fights in the stands.”

Of West Virginia’s nine newcomers on the roster, four transferred in from ‘Power 5’ schools. Huggins believes those players will be comfortable in a high-energy atmosphere.

“We’ve got guys that have played in some really hard places too. We’ve got guys that played in the SEC. We’ve got guys that have played in a lot of big-time leagues and big-time places. It wasn’t Pitt, but they were big-time atmospheres. We bring Joe [Toussaint] off the bench. He has played in virtually every big arena in the Big Ten. Those guys have been there before.”

Like the Mountaineers, Pittsburgh has nine new players on their roster this season.

WVU forward Tre Mitchell (3) shoots a layup during the second half against the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum. (Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

“They’ve done a really good job of solidifying their roster. They’ve brought in a bunch of guys that can make shots. They went to more of a spread kind of deal. And we’re a whole lot different. The last couple times we played, we were pressing from start to finish.

“I think they are way more versatile defensively than what they were in the past. They’re going to play multiple defenses and they are going to press some. I think they are going to bring a much bigger package than they have in the past.”

Mississippi transfer and junior forward Blake Hinson led the Panthers with 27 points and 13 rebounds in Pittsburgh’s season-opening 80-58 win over UT-Martin on Monday.

“6-foot-7, 255 pounds and he can really, really shoot the ball. He really shoots the ball. He’s got a great touch. He’s got a quick release. He is really good and he is really good in transition. He’s good enough that if you try and crowd him, or you kind of go at him a little bit off balance, he’s gonna drive by you. And he is big and strong enough to finish inside.”

The Mountaineers opened up with a 76-58 win over Mount St. Marys Monday at the Coliseum. Texas transfer Tre Mitchell scored 13 points in 14 minutes despite being limited in practice due to a preseason foot injury.

“He was really good. He practiced the whole practice yesterday, which was the first time he has gone through a full practice. He was moving well and shooting the ball well. I think his understanding of what we expect from him is a lot greater now. He was fine. I am a little bit shocked that he is where he is today, honestly.”

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