The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

December 22, 2011

WVU hopes to get Huggins his 700th win tonight

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia University men’s basketball team hopes to give Coach Bob Huggins the 700th victory of his 30-year career tonight.

The Mountaineers (8-2) play Missouri State (7-3) at 8 p.m. in Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. It is WVU’s third game in the Las Vegas Classic.

West Virginia won its first two games in that holiday event in Morgantown. The victories were against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 84-64 and Tennessee Tech 72-53.

Win or lose, the Mountaineers will meet undefeated Baylor (10-0) at 9 p.m. on Friday in the tournament windup. That game will be televised by ESPN.

The WVU-Missouri State game is on ESPN3.

West Virginia has won four consecutive contests since losing 76-62 at nationally ranked Mississippi State on Dec. 3.

Huggins’ all-time career record as an NCAA Division I head coach is 699-255. He ranks fourth among the nation’s active winningest head coaches.

“All of us want to win No. 700 Thursday,” said captain Kevin Jones. “I think it’s great.

“I was one of his first recruits here, and he has been terrific. His 700th win will mean much to all of our team.

“Baylor will be the best team we’ve played so far. But we’ve got to take one game at a time.”

Jones, a 6-foot-8 forward, leads the team in both scoring (20.8 points per game) and rebounding (11.3). He also has 12 assists, 12, blocks and 12 steals.

Darryl “Truck” Bryant, a 6-foot-2 senior, said, “It will be just wonderful when we win Coach Huggins’ No. 700. He’s special to us in a lot of ways.

“He’s done a great job for such a long time.

“Getting 700 will mean a lot to everyone. That’s a lot of wins.

“That just shows that he’s a great coach.

“He’s a great leader and a great person. He really knows the game. I love the man.”

Bryant is the team’s second-leading scorer with 16.5 ppg, including a team-best 20 of 59 from 3-point range. He also has 32 assists and 11 steals.

Deniz Kilicli, a 6-foot-9 junior, is the only other Mountaineer averaging double digits in scoring (12.2) after 10 games. He’s also averaging 6.6 rebounds and owns 17 assists.

West Virginia’s next home game is on Wednesday, Dec. 28, in its Big East Conference opener against Villanova.

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