West Virginia Honors Huggins; Mountaineers Thwart Buffalo

Ken Cross

December 22, 2022 at 10:25 am.

One of the most overdue experiences in college basketball happened when West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins was finally announced to go into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Then in September, he was finally inducted into the Hall.

Huggins has won 69.4 percent of his games which represents 853 wins at this point. He has 25 NCAA Tournament trips combined during his three jobs at West Virginia, Cincinnati and Akron. He has nine conference tournament championships at the three schools as he has taken the Bearcats and Mountaineers to the Final Four during his tenures there.

Sunday was a thrilling day as Huggins walked out to a standing ovation from the crowd in WVU Coliseum as he was honored for his Hall of Fame entry.  He went to the middle of the court where his Hall of Fame jersey was framed and sitting.

After Huggins was honored, the Mountaineers shot 52 percent from the floor and scored 18 points off of 15 offensive rebounds in their 96-78 win over Buffalo.

Erik Stevenson led WVU with 22 points, while Jimmy Bell, Jr., netted 18 points with 10 boards and Tre Mitchell scored 17.

Emmitt Mathews was out with a left knee injury as he has averaged 10.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, so far this season. He also has shot 47.4 percent from the floor where he has made an eye-popping 15 of 31 three-point attempts.

“I don’t think we would have had as much trouble with the ball screen if Emmitt was in the game,” said Huggins. “We are trying to give other guys some time. Kobe (Johnson) deserves time; Seth (Wilson) deserves time – more they have been getting.”


For Whom the ‘Bell’ Tolls: West Virginia picked up a career-high 18 points from Jimmy Bell, Jr., (6.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), who came over from Saint Louis after the 2022-23 season.  He is shooting 67.6 percent from the floor while making himself a valuable asset on the glass on both ends of the court.

“I think he has played well the last couple of games,” explained Huggins. “We had time off and we didn’t go as hard as we normally go or as long as we normally go.”

Bell scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half on Sunday as he was 5 of 6 from the floor and 8 of 13 from the free throw line in playing 27 minutes.

“I wanted to keep him in some semblance of shape, but I didn’t want to wear him out knowing that we are going to play two games and flying out to Kansas and play two more and start league play,” said Huggins.


Turnovers, Defense are Focal Points Moving Forward: West Virginia turned the ball over 14 times in defeating the Bulls as they are averaging 12.5 turnovers per game.

“We start throwing it around for some reason and we’re careless with it,” said Huggins. “We have to do a better job when we are averaging 14 turnovers a game and that’s too many. It is going to come back and bite us if we don’t start taking better care of the ball.”

West Virginia is forcing 17.1 turnovers per game as Huggins is looking for the defense to stop opponents at a lower percentage than 42.6 percent per contest.

As Buffalo shot 48 percent on the evening, Huggins was upset with how West Virginia guarded ball screens inside of the Bulls’ offense.

Huggins noted that the ball screens were becoming a huge trend inside almost every team’s offense and that has to be an entity for WVU to focus stopping.

“Most people are guarding it left-right, the guys go left, the guy on the left side takes it,” explained Huggins. “If he goes right, the guy on the right side takes it.”