MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bob Huggins had quite the day on Sunday as he was honored for his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at the WVU Coliseum.
That was just the beginning, though, as 10 minutes later, Huggins had to coach his team in front of 10,689 Mountaineer fans. Luckily for them, they went home happy as the Mountaineers topped the Bulls 96-78.
Here’s what the coach had to say after the win:
On the game’s physicality…
There’s no doubt that the Bulls came to Morgantown hoping to compete.
Buffalo battled with WVU and even cut its deficit to a point with less than 12 minutes to go. Much of that had to do with an energized, physical brand of play they brought to the Coliseum that WVU seemed to struggle to match.
“It seemed to me that [Buffalo] started the game with that kind of attitude that they weren’t going to be punked,” Huggins said. “They were extremely physical. They were way more physical than we were.”
There comes a downside with that play, though. Buffalo racked up 27 fouls and two Bulls fouled out in the game.
Still, Huggins wants his team to bring a similar intensity to its games while also being smart about it.
“We’ve gotta find somewhere in between. Somewhere where we’re still physical but we’re physical in the right way according to what the rules say,” Huggins said. “There’s going to be contact. I think when some young officials come in and want to call every bump, we could be here for three days because that’s going to happen. That’s part of it. You can’t do it to gain an advantage.”
On ball security…
West Virginia turned the ball over more than its season average, giving up possession 14 times. That is unacceptable for Huggins.
“We were careless with it. We’ve got to do a better job,” he said.
That is an area of emphasis for his team as Big 12 play looms around the corner, tipping off on Dec. 31.
“It’s going to come back and bite us if we don’t start taking care of the ball,” Huggins said.
On the absence of Emmitt Matthews Jr….
WVU played Sunday without Emmitt Matthews Jr., the team’s vocal leader, and still pulled off a comfortable win over the Bulls.
Was Matthews’ absence apparent to the Hall of Famer?
“Without a question,” Huggins said.
That mostly showed up on defense. WVU has struggled this season defending ball screens, and the Bulls attacked the Mountaineers all first half with that type of offense.
Huggins speculated that it wouldn’t have been as dangerous to WVU if Matthews was on the floor.
On a positive note, younger players got additional playing time due to the gap in the rotation. Kobe Johnson started his third game of the season for WVU, while Seth Wilson played significant minutes and made a big contribution on offense.
“That’s kind of how I looked at is as an opportunity to get those guys some playing time, get those guys some experience,” Huggins said. “I thought when we switched defenses at the end of the game that was really good for them. It’s one thing to do it in practice. It’s another thing to do it in a game when they’re trying to destroy what you’re trying to do.”