The Times West Virginian

Sports

December 10, 2012

WVU’s Huggins is a fan of old rivalries

MORGANTOWN — Coach Bob Huggins believes West Virginia University should continue to play Pitt, Virginia Tech and Duquesne University in men’s basketball.

The series with the Hokies resumed Saturday afternoon and the Mountaineers will visit Duquesne for a game Tuesday. But the series with Pitt expired in 2011-12.

“Why can’t we keep playing schools we’ve been close rivals with for many years?” he asked the other day. “I am all for it! We played Virginia Tech (for example) 60-some consecutive years, then stopped playing.

“I just can’t understand why we can’t continue to play Pitt and Virginia Tech (regularly in non-conference games).”

The series with Duquesne’s Dukes resumed when Huggins became head coach here in 2007.

He recalled that he played against all three of these early rivals as a student here in 1975-76-77.

The WVU Coliseum was sold out for Saturday’s Virginia Tech contest. And you have to assume many of the spectators were from southern West Virginia.

“We have such great tradition with these schools,” Huggins explained. “So why not keep playing them?”

You’ve got to go all the way back to 1904 for the start of the so-called Backyard Brawl. The last meeting was a year ago. WVU leads Pitt 91-88.

The Virginia Tech series started in 1921. The teams last played in 2004 when the Hokies moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference with WVU leading the series 46-29.

Duquesne has been an opponent off and on since 1915. The Atlantic 10 school was last met in 2011-12 and trails in the rivalry by a 50-36 margin.

“A lot of the fans here Saturday were WVU students at one point or another, or are just longtime fans,” Huggins said. “When I played here, they pushed all of these rivalries.

“I thought then that Virginia Tech was every bit as good a rivalry as Pitt,” Huggins said.

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