Carl Krauser chuckled and flashed a big grin.
After a satisfying 81-68 win over Providence on Saturday night, No. 9 Pittsburgh's star guard could finally devote his full attention to Monday's crucial road game against rival West Virginia.
That contest could have postseason implications as the Panthers (21-4, 10-4) jostle with the Mountaineers and the Big East's other top teams for seeding in the conference tournament. Pittsburgh and West Virginia are tied for third in the Big East.
Beating the Friars helped the Panthers' confidence, especially after having been off for a week since their last game, an 84-82 loss to Marquette on Feb. 18.
"After you lose, you're always anxious to play," Krauser said. "Everything went a lot more smoother (Saturday)."
Aaron Gray had 17 points and nine rebounds and reserve guards Antonio Graves and Levance Fields keyed a first-half run and the Panthers led by as many as 18 in the first half.
The Friars got within 55-49 midway through the second off Sharaud Curry's soft jumper.
But Krauser hit a 3-pointer and baseline layup to keep the lead at double digits. Graves hit an open 3 with a little more than 3 minutes left to extend the lead to 75-59.
Curry finished with 24 points while Geoff McDermott grabbed 14 rebounds for the Friars (12-13, 5-9). Leading scorer Donnie McGrath was held to seven points.
Pitt built an early lead even with Gray, the Big East's leading rebounder, on the bench for much of the first half with two fouls.
It was the guys who came off the bench that gave Pitt a spark.
Fields hit a 3-pointer and two runners to help the Panthers to a 19-10 lead. Graves hit two long jumpers before Gray returned with just under 6 minutes left and the Panthers leading by 11.
NO. 14 WEST VIRGINIA 68, LOUISVILLE 64: The host Mountaineers (19-8, 10-4) built a 61-50 lead with 3:52 left but saw it whittled down to seven in the final minute. The game then became dramatic when West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle (21 points) inexplicably fouled Andre McGee on a drive to the basket with 4.8 seconds left. McGee made the lay-in and accidentally hit the resulting free throw to pull Louisville (17-10, 5-9) within 66-64. J.D. Collins (13 points) was fouled and made both free throws for the final margin.
NO. 23 GEORGETOWN 68, SYRACUSE 53: Jeff Green (18 points) scored five straight and had an assist during a 10-2 run to put the Hoyas (19-7, 10-5) ahead 43-35 early in second half. His three-pointer with 16:31 left sent Terrance Roberts to the bench with his fourth foul and the Hoyas took off from there. The visiting Orange (18-8, 7-7) pulled within three on Eric Devendorf's lay-up three minutes later, but Georgetown answered with a 13-4 run over the next five minutes. Roberts returned briefly but fouled out and Syracuse couldn't get closer than nine.
MARQUETTE 80, NOTRE DAME 72: The visiting Golden Eagles, who lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage, overcame a 3-for-16 start from outside the arc and made 5-of-6 midway through the second to break open a close game. Steve Novak scored 21, including back-to-back 3-pointers during a key 9-0 run to spark Marquette (19-8, 9-5) to a season sweep over the Irish (13-12, 4-10) for the first time since 1939.
DEPAUL 67, SETON HALL 64: Freshman Wilson Chandler scored a career-high 26 for host DePaul (11-14, 4-10). Seton Hall (16-10, 7-7) trailed 33-27 at halftime, but opened the second with a 10-0 run. Minutes later the game was tied at 58 when Chandler hit a 3-pointer with 5:25 left. Kelly Whitney's tip-in cut it to 66-64 but Chandler made a free throw and Donald Copeland's halfcourt attempt to tie at 67 missed as time expired.