West Virginia looks to build momentum vs. Eastern Kentucky

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December 25 2021 12:00 am

Fresh off a third-place finish in the Charleston Classic, West Virginia will try to build some momentum when it hosts Eastern Kentucky on Friday night in Morgantown, W.Va.

The Mountaineers (4-1) are coming off a 66-59 win over Clemson on Sunday in South Carolina. It was the 904th career victory for Bob Huggins, moving him past Roy Williams for fourth place on the all-time list.

The Colonels (5-1) easily dispatched Eastern Illinois 82-43 in their last contest on Monday.

In West Virginia’s win over Clemson, Sean McNeil scored all 15 of his points in the second half of a game that saw 14 lead changes.

The Mountaineers were down 49-41 when McNeil’s first basket sparked a rally that led to a victory. He is shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range and is the team’s second-leading scorer (13.0 per game) behind Taz Sherman, who is putting up 19.0 points per night.

“That was the Mountaineers team,” said Huggins after the win. “That’s who (our supporters are) used to seeing: Guys that are playing that hard, competing that hard.”

Meanwhile, coach A.W. Hamilton’s squad enters this contest with just one loss, a one-point setback to James Madison at the buzzer on Nov. 16.

In Eatern Kentucky’s last contest, Curt Lewis had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Jannson Williams added 16 points, 10 boards and six blocks, and Michael Moreno recorded 15 points, seven rebounds and six steals to lead the way in the easy victory.

NC State transfer Braxton Beverly, who scored more than 1,000 points with the Wolfpack, missed the game with a back injury.

“Just a great team effort,” Hamilton said after beating Eastern Illinois. “I’m so proud of how we came out with the same energy, the same pop to us (in the second half). And the shots started falling.”

EKU and its “most exciting 40 minutes in sports” style of play could present a tough task for West Virginia.

The Colonels, who are in their first season in the ASUN after moving from the Ohio Valley Conference, pass and shoot the ball very well and are skilled at forcing turnovers. The frenetic style won’t be new to the Mountaineers, who are aggressive themselves defensively.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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