The Dominion Post  

Huggs expects Horns’ Bamba to face Mountaineers

Created on:   Thu, Mar 1, 2018   9:30 PM

Last modified:   Thu, Mar 1, 2018   9:30 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — WVU players will enter the March 3 noon game against Texas fully expecting to face Longhorns’ star freshman Mohamed Bamba.

The 6-foot-11 forward has been limited with a toe injury he suffered in a game against Oklahoma, on Feb. 17.

Since then, Texas head coach Shaka Smart said, Bamba limped his way through 31 minutes against Kansas State and then was limited to 15 minutes against Oklahoma State.

Bamba, who leads the Big 12 with 107 blocks and also averages 13 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, sat out completely in the Longhorns’ 80-70 loss to Kansas, on Monday.

With Bamba having nearly six days to rest, WVU head coach Bob Huggins said the Mountaineers expect he will play in the regular-season finale for both schools.

“He’s going to play,” Huggins said. Texas people “are saying that this is their play-in game to the NCAA tournament. I would be the most shocked guy in the world if he doesn’t play.”

Bamba had nine points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in Texas’ 86-51 loss against WVU, on Jan. 20.

If Bamba does play, it could be one final match-up between the Big 12’s top shot blockers. WVU forward Sagaba Konate is second in the league with 100 blocks. He had six against Texas in the first game.

Bamba is expected to turn pro after the season.

The Longhorns will be without junior guard Eric Davis Jr., who was named in a Yahoo! Sports report that connected him with the ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball.

The report stated Davis accepted a $1,500 loan from ex-agent Christian Dawkins. Davis sat out Texas’ last two games. He is the team’s sixth-leading scorer, at 8.8 points per game.


Since the 2014-’15 season, WVU is one of only two Big 12 men’s basketball programs to win at least 11 conference games each season.

There is no drama about who is the other: Kansas, which has won 14 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles.

It is a step up from where the Mountaineers began when they entered the Big 12, in 2012.

After a tough 6-12 introduction, WVU finished at .500 (9-9) in its second season.

Ever since, the Mountaineers have made a steady climb, meaning more “Big Monday” appearances on ESPN and higher seeds in the Big 12 tournament.

No. 20 WVU (22-8, 11-6 Big 12) can secure its third consecutive No. 2 seed in the league tourney with a victory against Texas (17-13, 7-10).

All of that is not lost on Huggins, but he is not about to celebrate being No. 2.

“We want to win,” Huggins said. “You want to hang banners and put trophies in the trophy case.

“You want to be able to bring your grandchildren back one day and they can say, ‘Paw-paw was a big part of that hanging up there,’ instead of, ‘Hey, we got
11 wins four years in a row, but didn’t win anything.’ ”


Don’t count Huggins as one who is hoping the Mountaineers get sent to Pittsburgh to start the NCAA tournament.

“Not unless you’re handling the tickets,” Huggins joked to a reporter.

Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena will host first- and second-round games, March 15-17, as one of eight sites for the early rounds.

Generally, the NCAA tournament selection committee tries to keep teams as close to home as possible, with the top 16 teams having more of a priority.

WVU last played in Pittsburgh for the NCAA tournament in 2012, a 77-54 loss against Gonzaga.

Then, Huggins said, playing that close to Morgantown put him in the cross-hairs for several more ticket requests than usual, something he didn’t need as he worked to prepare his team.

The other first- and second-round sites: Nashville, Tenn.; Boise, Idaho; San Diego; Dallas; Wichita, Kan.; Detroit, and Charlotte.