WVU men’s basketball hosts Youngstown State in final Huggins reunion clash

Gold and Blue Nation

Strong offense meets strong defense as Huggins faces yet another former pupil

10 years before accepting his first Division I head coaching job with Youngstown State, Jerrod Calhoun began his stint as an assistant coach at West Virginia. On Wednesday, he makes his second return to the WVU Coliseum as his Penguins are set to square off against the Bob Huggins-led Mountaineers at 6 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

This will be the third and final reunion for Bob Huggins in his team’s non-conference schedule, having already earned wins over Radford, which is coached by former player Darris Nichols, and UAB, led by former assistant Andy Kennedy. This is also the third meeting between Calhoun and Huggins, with the mentor taking both victories in 2018 and 2019.

Calhoun has done his best to turn Youngstown State’s program around, as he and his team are in the midst of their third straight winning season through eight games. The Penguins (7-3, 2-0 Horizon) atop the Horizon League standings with the second-best offense in the conference, scoring 74.4 points per game.

Much of that, Huggins says, is a testament to Calhoun’s job as a coach.

“Jerrod has done a great job coaching them, and I think a great job of recruiting people that fit his system and what he wants to do,” Huggins said. “They really run good offense, they’re very patient, they’re very skilled in getting the ball where they need the ball to get to to be successful in the half court and they’re sound defensively.”

It’s definitely working, as the Penguins are riding a five-game win streak into Morgantown. Looking to end it will be the Mountaineers (10-1), however, and they will likely prove to be the toughest test they will have faced to this point in their season.

West Virginia sits just outside the AP Top 25 poll after winning seven straight games, most recently notching its first true win on the road. The team’s strong defensive play has been the highlight of this stretch, and that will prove to be a massive obstacle for the Penguins in Morgantown.

In fact, West Virginia has kept its last five opponents under 60 points, while Youngstown State has yet to score below 70 in the month of December. On the other end, Huggins is hoping to see his team get some more points on the board, as it puts up a Big 12-low 69.4 points per game.

“I think it says a lot that we are holding people under 60 and we are trying to play, we’re just not scoring the ball at the rate that we’ve scored the ball in the past,” Huggins said.

Tip-off between the Penguins and the Mountaineers is set for 6 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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