West Virginia will look to extend its winning streak to three games when it plays host to Buffalo on Sunday at Morgantown, W.Va.
Neither team has played since Dec. 10. The Mountaineers (8-2) last earned an 81-70 win over visiting UAB, while the Bulls (5-5) saw a four-game winning streak end with an 88-63 loss to Tulane in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event at Atlanta.
The Mountaineers led the Blazers 40-31 at halftime, but the game was tied at 47-all with 13:50 remaining. West Virginia responded by going on a 6-2 run to take a 55-49 lead it wouldn’t relinquish following Erik Stevenson’s layup with 11:24 left.
The Mountaineers forced 19 turnovers.
“I thought, for the most part, that’s as well as we’ve played defensively,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We fell asleep a few times. We’re standing there watching the ball and guys cut behind us and so forth. We get that fixed and I think we’ll have a pretty good chance to be a pretty good team.”
Kedrian Johnson scored a team-high 17 points for West Virginia, while Emmitt Matthews Jr. went 4 of 5 from beyond the arc on his way to 16 points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.
Joe Toussaint chipped in 14 points and Tre Mitchell finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Bulls kept it close early against the Green Wave before Tulane ended the first half on a 29-12 run. Tulane led by as many as 36 points in the second half.
Buffalo’s LaQuill Hardnett had a double-double with a team-high 13 points and 10 rebounds. Zid Powell, who averages 13.8 points per game, was the only other Bull who finished in double-figure scoring with 11 points.
Curtis Jones, who was held to four points on 1-for-9 shooting against Tulane, leads the Bulls in points (15.1), assists (2.5) and steals (1.8) and is second in rebounding (5.1) and 3-point shooting percentage (34.3).
“I remember sitting down with him after the season,” Buffalo coach Will Whitesell said. “He said, ‘I know what I have to do. I’ve got to get better. I got to work.’
“He took a mature approach to it. He had a great spring and a really good summer and has carried that on. Being a new group, we needed someone with stability to come in. He’s done a great job with that.”
–Field Level Media