WVU BASKETBALL IN CHARLESTON ; MOUNTAINEERS ON THE RISE West Virginia Hosts Western Carolina at the Civic Center

By Casazza, Mike | Charleston Gazette Mail, December 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

WVU BASKETBALL IN CHARLESTON ; MOUNTAINEERS ON THE RISE West Virginia Hosts Western Carolina at the Civic Center


Casazza, Mike, Charleston Gazette Mail


NO. 15 WVU VS. WESTERN CAROLINA When: 7 p.m., Wednesday Where: Charleston Civic Center TV: Root Sports Line: WVU by 32

A historic win against Virginia on Saturday did everything West Virginia wanted and perhaps even more. The Mountaineers jumped from No. 25 to No. 15 in the media poll Monday and from No. 19 to No. 16 in the coaches' poll. In the RPI, WVU was No. 105 on the morning of the win at John Paul Jones Arena and rose to No. 42 Tuesday. And in the Sagarin Ratings, the Mountaineers are now the top-ranked team in the country.

In the first week of December, when teams are working through non- conference play and trying to establish themselves before they start their league schedules, the top spot still matters for WVU and its NCAA tournament ambitions.

"It's pretty much everything they say they're going to look at, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said.

WVU (6-1) had its first true road win against a top-10 team since the final game of the 2010 regular season, and that team used an overtime triumph against Villanova as a catalyst for winning the Big East Tournament and reaching the Final Four. The last time WVU beat a top 10-team on the road in non-conference play was 1957.

It's impressed computers and voters. The Mountaineers will discover how much it resonated with fans Wednesday. They play host to Western Carolina in a 7 p.m. game at the Civic Center, and attendance is worth watching. Last November, unranked WVU defeated James Madison as 8,101 people watched. That was the worst attendance in the 16 games Huggins had coached in the building since he returned to his alma mater for the 2007-08 season. A year earlier, the Mountaineers were ranked No. 21 and beat VMI before 8,102.

But after last season's win, Huggins said, "I want to come here, but I don't want to come here and not have a good crowd.

The Catamounts (3-5) have won two out of three and are led by former Ohio coach Larry Hunter, who is 4-4 all-time against the Mountaineers and owns a win in the Civic Center.

"I've known Larry for a long time, Huggins said of Hunter, who has 683 career wins and was inducted into the state of Ohio's basketball Hall of Fame this year with Huggins' father, Charlie. …

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