NEW YORK -- Both Pittsburgh and West Virginia are securely in the NCAA Tournament field at this point, so their quarterfinal Big East matchup was purely about playing for a better seed come selection Sunday.
But it was seventh seeded West Virginia that played like the team that could be the potential number one seed tonight as the Mountaineers took control in the second half beating up their northern rivals 74-60 at Madison Square Garden.
Da'Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Alex Ruoff all scored in double-figures for West Virginia (23-10) with the freshman Ebanks leading the way with a game-high 20. Ruoff added 18 and Butler chipped in 16.
Ebanks was a force all night using his athletic build to trouble Pittsburgh defenders throughout the game. Ebanks got his 20 points on 5-of-9 shooting, but was able to get to the free throw line 11 times, making 10.
Second seeded Pittsburgh(28-4) was led by Sam Young's 15 points. Co-Big East Player of the Year DeJuan Blair was held in check thanks in large part to foul trouble. Blair scored six of the Panthers first nine points as Pitt jumped out to a 9-4 lead, but the sophomore picked up his second foul with just over 15 minutes remaining and was relegated to the bench for the remainder of the half. He finished with 14.
Midway through the second half Blair's frustration boiled over when he was hit with a technical foul at the 11:06 mark that sparked an 8-0 West Virginia run extending what was a seven point lead at 53-47 to 61-47.
The Mountaineers delivered the dagger minutes later when John Flowers drilled a three that gave WVU its largest lead at 68-53 with 5:18 remaining.
West Virgina shot 48 percent in the second half as they outscored Pitt 38-26 in the period. The Panthers struggled in the second half connecting on only 34.8 percent of their shots after hitting at a 53.6 percent clip in the first half.
WVU led at the half 36-34.
The Mountanieers will meet either sixth seeded Syracuse or third seeded Connecticut Saturday night.