Huggins reflects on history with UConn ahead of Big East-Big 12 Battle

Gold and Blue Nation

Huggins recalls one of his lone ejections against the Huskies.

West Virginia and UConn were rivals for 17 seasons during the heyday of the original incarnation of the Big East Conference.

The Mountaineers and Huskies battled 19 times over those seasons, but have met just once since West Virginia joined the Big 12. The two storied programs will meet on the hardwood once again on Wednesday inside the WVU Coliseum at 7 p.m. as part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle.

WVU and UConn last met on Nov. 23, 2014. Juwan Staten scored a game-high 21 points, and every Mountaineer player who stepped on the court that night scored at least two points or grabbed at least one rebound.

West Virginia won 78-68 to claim the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship.

UConn owns an all-time record of 16-6 against the Mountaineers. West Virginia has won two of the previous six meetings dating back to the 2008-2009 season.

However, the Mountaineers have advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the two seasons they’ve most recently beaten the Huskies. That includes a trip to the Sweet 16 at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

Huggins coached just five seasons in the old Big East Conference. All of those came with WVU from 2007 through 2012.

“When I was at Cincinnati, I was really looking forward to playing in the Big East,” said Huggins. “You’re coaching against some of the, well, how many Hall of Famers came out of the Big East? There’s just Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer. I don’t know if it’s fun, but it’s a great challenge.”

One of those Hall of Famers he had go up against was Jim Calhoun, who finished his coaching career with 920 Division I wins.

Huggins currently sits at 907 wins. A win on Wednesday would put him one step closer to passing yet another Hall of Famer on the all-time wins list.

What moment does Bob Huggins remember most from his battles against the Huskies?

“I remember getting thrown out at UConn,” he said Tuesday, which garnered a laugh from media members.

In between WVU’s two wins over Connecticut was a road loss to the Huskies in 2010. Huggins didn’t get to finish the game after being assessed two technical fouls — but a decade later, he doesn’t think that he said the most to the officials that day.

“Probably not as much as Calhoun,” Huggins said. “But I was the opposition.”

West Virginia didn’t lose again that season until falling to Duke in the Final Four.

A locker room speech helped spark a historic run that lasted deep into the NCAA Tournament that season.

“That was a good one,” Huggins said.

West Virginia versus UConn can be seen on ESPN2 beginning at 7 p.m.

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