WVU eyes win streak at TCU
Bob Huggins and Jamie Dixon have a long history with one another.
The two head coaches have faced off countless times over the years, dating back to West Virginia’s days in the Big East Conference. Huggins, who has been with WVU since 2007, and Dixon, who served as the head coach at Pitt from 2003-2016, were at the center of the Backyard Brawl, year in and year out.
Now, by nature of both WVU and TCU — Dixon’s current team — residing in the Big 12, the two clash twice during the regular season every year. This season’s first matchup between the two veterans comes on Tuesday, when the Mountaineers take to the court in Fort Worth, Texas.
Tuesday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN2.
The No. 10 Mountaineers (15-6, 8-4 Big 12) enter hot off of a win over No. 12 Texas, who they defeated after shedding a 19-point deficit to take the lead in the final minutes.
West Virginia struggled to contain the up-tempo Texas offense, having to work from behind for the duration of the game. The Longhorns held the lead for more than 30 minutes, compared to fewer than three from the Mountaineers. The same intensity of Texas will be present as West Virginia takes on the Horned Frogs.
“He’s got a bunch of young guys who can really run,” Huggins said of Dixon and TCU (11-9, 4-7 Big 12).
“They’re similar to playing like maybe Oklahoma State, because Oklahoma State really, really runs. These guys really run. Transition is going to be huge for us, which was, again, a reason why (Saturday) we just didn’t do very much.”
TCU sits in the bottom half of the Big 12 but, the team hasn’t exactly been awful. Yet when they do lose, the Horned Frogs have a tendency to be blown out, losing to Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas by at least 15 points. Still, this is a TCU team that features two of the conference’s top contributors.
R.J. Nembhard, one of the team’s starting guards, currently ranks fourth in the Big 12 with an average of nearly 17 points per game.
“He’s playing really well,” Huggins said.
“I think the thing that we’ve got to be prepared for is how hard he runs the floor. He really runs the floor which kind of stretches everything out, gives the other guys a little more space to penetrate (and) kick. They’re big penetrate-and-kick guys.”
Kevin Samuel, a junior forward, is also a dominant force on the court, leading the conference in blocked shots and ranking second in overall rebounds.
“You attack a shot blocker,” Huggins said. “I think the best way is to get contact with him. If you get contact with him, you kind of keep him grounded. The worst thing to do is give him space to work.”