Bob Huggins was greeted with “boos” in his first time back in the Cintas Center, where he used to coach Cincinnati and became the school’s all-time winningest coach. Huggins failed to add another win to his all time total tonight, as his Mountaineers were stifled by the Musketeers.
Emmitt Matthews started the scoring for West Virginia with a three ball on his first shot of the night, a trend that would continue, as WVU hit their first five 3-point attempts of the game. Erik Stevenson helped the team get to the hot start, scoring nine points with two three pointers in that span.
WVU got sloppy and turned the ball over on bad passes on two straight possessions to allow Xavier to get within five. But, two quick buckets from the Mountaineers soon after, forced Xavier to call timeout.
The Musketeers got back within five with just under five minutes to go in the half, on a big-time putback dunk. They scored again to close the gap to three, much to the excitement of the home fans, but Erik Stevenson silenced the crowd (literally) with a contested pull-up three.
Xavier kept big energy to remain on the heels of the Mountaineers, but never could quite close the gap in the first, leaving the game with West Virginia up 43-36.
The Mountaineers shot a game separating 7-9 from the three point line to aid their lead, and Stevenson put up 14 points on 50% shooting on the half.
Both teams scored on their opening possessions of the second, but West Virginia swiped two consecutive passes early in the game and scored in transition to increase their lead to nine. Xavier fought back once again, however, and closed the gap to four, the smallest deficit for some time in the game, aided by a three by Souley Boum.
Xavier got their first lead since the early minutes of the first half, after seven minutes of play in the second, forcing Bob Huggins to call timeout.
The teams continued trading shots, but the home advantage proved strong for Xavier, as they began to hold the energy of the game.
Xavier got their largest lead of the game with five, with a little over three minutes remaining in the game.
A miscommunication from the Mountaineers resulted in a turnover on a crucial possession for WVU with just over two minutes to play, while down seven points.
A wide array of mistakes from the Mountaineers, the loud Xavier environment, plus impressive performances from Souley Boum and Jack Nunge for Xavier, resulted in WVU suffering their second loss of the season, 84-74.
They will get a shot at redemption against Navy, on December 7th.
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