MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia men’s basketball continues its homestand on Saturday when the Mountaineers host UAB at the WVU Coliseum. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
West Virginia aims to maintain its perfect home record after its most recent victory over Navy. If anyone can threaten that mark before Big 12 play, though, it would be the Blazers, who rank No. 50 in the NET.
UAB (7-1) is riding a six-game winning streak into Morgantown, including wins over USF and Georgia. Saturday’s clash will be UAB’s first true road game, however, and its sole loss came away from home to Toledo at the Barstool Invitational in Philadelphia.
The Blazers gave West Virginia some trouble in their 2021 meeting, and much of that Blazer squad is back for another season. UAB returns four starters for 2022-23, including Jordan Walker, last season’s Player of the Year in Conference USA.
Walker struggled against the Mountaineers in Birmingham, though, and WVU coach Bob Huggins gives much of that credit to his own point guard, Kedrian Johnson.
“I think Keddy can match his speed,” Huggins said. “He just runs away from people, and Keddy did a great job of staying on him and Keddy has the same kind of speed up and down the floor that he has.”
Johnson spearheads WVU’s defense, but its offense has begun to turn heads in the early part of the season. Four different Mountaineers average double-digit points thus far, with fifth-year transfer Erik Stevenson leading the way with 14.2 points per game.
Huggins squares off against UAB coach and former assistant Andy Kennedy for the second straight season. Kennedy sat on Huggins’s bench for a stint at Cincinnati before moving on to Ole Miss, where he led the Rebels for a lengthy period. He is now in his third season with the Blazers after leading the program to its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2015 last year.
“He was terrific for us,” Huggins said. “He has a great relationship with the players.”
This game continues a long trend of Huggins squaring off against his assistants. In 2021-22 alone, Huggins faced three in a five-game span — Darris Nichols and Radford, Kennedy and UAB and Jarrod Calhoun and Youngstown State.
Huggins has always been keen to help those guys out throughout his career, and he seems to enjoy facing them on the court.
“It’s actually kind of fun,” Huggins said.
Tip-off between West Virginia and UAB is set for 6 p.m. ET. The game will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.