Mazzulla, meanwhile, never came off the court (a first in his 138-game college career), made 6-of-10 shots - mostly on drives to the basket - scored 16 points, had seven assists, five rebounds and just one turnover.
Statistics, though, can't capture what the two meant to the game. Both played like underdogs with something to prove, which is the way they always seem to play. That they had a chance to do so against one another was a bonus.
"To a large degree, it was a battle of those two guys,'' West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "Joe was trying to make something happen for us on the defensive end, and Hansbrough was trying to calm them down and get them back into their offense.''
At times it wasn't pretty at all. Both Mazzulla and Hansbrough wound up sprawled on the floor more times than they could count. But it was still almost artful to watch.
"We gained a lot of respect for each other for the way we played, not only tonight but in general,'' Mazzulla said. "We had to battle every possession against each other.''
BRIEFLY: With most teams down to just four games remaining, the Big East standings couldn't be much tighter and the race for byes in the league tournament much more wide open.
In fact, the only team in the league that seems assured even of the first-round bye that goes to the top eight teams is Pitt (12-2 in the league). The Panthers are in pretty good shape for one of the two-round byes that goes to the top four teams.
But the gap between second-place Notre Dame (10-4) and the three teams tied for eighth (WVU, Connecticut and Cincinnati, all 8-6) is just two games. And No. 11 Marquette (7-7) is just three games out of second place.
By the time West Virginia plays again Thursday at Pitt, the Mountaineers could be looking at falling as low as a tie for 10th with a loss or as high as a tie for fourth with a win. But win or lose it won't be critical because pretty much the same stakes will be on the line the next time the Mountaineers play, too.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.