West Virginia, Huggins prepares to face veteran Xavier

Bob Huggins is very familiar with Xavier’s basketball program.

The coach was on the sidelines for 16 editions of the Crosstown Shootout as head coach in Cincinnati and had an up close and personal taste in the Musketeers.

Sure, it was on a whole different level of intensity than West Virginia will enter Saturday at 6:30 p.m. as part of the Big 12-Big East battle, but there’s definitely a story.

“I don’t have any good thoughts about Xavier,” he said.

Huggins and Xavier’s teams he faced during his time with the Bearcats had many high-level contests, but he hasn’t faced the Musketeers since 2008. That was a 79-75 victory for Xavier that propelled them into the Elite 8.

So, there’s no carryover from those pairings.

This Xavier team is currently 5-3 on the season and the only common opponent is Florida with both meetings coming in the Phil Knight Legacy. The Musketeers beat the Gators 80-73, while the Mountaineers won their match convincingly 84-55 in the final matchup of PK 85.

Xavier has five players averaging double-digits in scoring and features senior forward Jack Nunge who has the ability to score at all three levels despite his 7-foot-0 frame.

“They really score. When you have a 7-foot player who can go out and make threes at alarming speed for an opponent to drag your big that far from target, that’s a huge plus for them,” Huggins said. they can shoot.”

That also includes another big in the senior Zach Freemantle who at 6-foot-9 is another big for Xavier who will be playing at the same time as Nunge. He is averaging 13.6 points and over 7 rebounds per game.

As a team, Xavier is shooting 51% from the floor and 43.2% from three. Senior guard Souley Boum is the leading scorer with 15.8 points per game, while junior Colby Jones is at 15.7 points per game. Both of these guards pose problems with their length and ability to reach the edge.

“They like to find ways to get them out of the loop because they’re really good at finishing because of their size,” Huggins said.

Xavier is a veteran club that has faced many big games in the past and will challenge West Virginia to be more consistent than it has been up to this point. The Mountaineers took two days off after returning home, but then familiarized themselves with the Musketeers before two tough workouts.

“We need to take better care of basketball. We throw him around like this against Xavier and it’s going to be a long night,” Huggins said.

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