Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Xavier rallies to defeat longtime nemesis Bob Huggins, WVU

Field Level Media
04 Dec 2022, 12:19 GMT+10

Souley Boum scored 23 points and Jack Nunge added 17 points and 14 rebounds as the Xavier Musketeers rallied past the visiting West Virginia Mountaineers in the second half for an 84-74 win in the Big East-Big 12 Battle.

Boum also had seven assists for Xavier (6-3), which outscored West Virginia 48-31 in the second half to spoil West Virginia coach Bob Huggins' return to Cincinnati as a visiting head coach. It was Huggins' first game in the Cintas Center since Feb. 3, 2004.

The crowd serenaded Huggins with John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" at the final buzzer.

Erik Stevenson led West Virginia (6-2) with 16 points, while Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Jimmy Bell Jr. each scored 12.

For all the lingering venom and hard feelings that Xavier fans have for Huggins from his days coaching crosstown rival Cincinnati, Saturday marked just his third trip to the arena in its 21-year history and West Virginia's first ever visit to Xavier.

The Mountaineers hit 7 of 9 of their 3-point attempts in the first half, including 3 of 4 from sharpshooter Stevenson. West Virginia connected on 15-of-28 shots in the half in building its lead to as many as 11, 41-30, with 2:42 left.

The half ended on a controversial note when Boum was called for an offensive foul just across midcourt. The crowd and the Xavier bench felt Mountaineers guard Kobe Johnson enhanced the call and flopped to the ground.

The call with 11 seconds left in the half led to a Stevenson pull-up jumper with four seconds left and allowed West Virginia to take a 43-36 lead to the locker room.

Boum and Xavier coach Sean Miller berated the three officials as they made their way to the dressing room. Fans showered the officials with boos as well.

Xavier fed off energy from the home crowd in grabbing an early 6-3 lead. But West Virginia took control of the first half with an 18-6 run, taking the lead on the first of Stevenson's three treys in the half.

That lead held until 12:53 remaining in the second half, when Nunge hit a hook shot on a fast break for a 56-55 Xavier lead.

--Field Level Media

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