CONWAY, S.C. — For a second straight day, the HTC Center became a smaller version of the WVU Coliseum.
West Virginia’s 63-57 defeat against Western Kentucky on Friday, in the second round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational, saw a near sold-out crowd decked out in WVU gear and colors.
A crowd of 3,307 — the HTC Center holds 3,500 — were already in their seats and applauded West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins upon his arrival into the gym before Thursday’s first-round win against Monmouth.
Huggins said the large gathering of fans wasn’t a surprise.
“I knew it was going to happen,” he said. “People were calling everyone at the school and here and everywhere trying to get tickets. I knew we were going to have a bunch.”
Built in 2012 as a basketball arena and a student recreation center for Coastal Carolina, Chanticleers officials knew almost immediately the arena would be filled when advance tickets went on sale.
“It sold out pretty quick with WVU fans,” one school official said. “It didn’t take long at all.”
Helping to create a WVU Coliseum atmosphere, John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was played after the Monmouth game. Before the game, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” played, which compelled the crowd to give a singing tribute to rival Pitt as only West Virginia fans can do.
“West Virginia people are great. It’s really a neat thing,” Huggins said. “I’ve said this often: You don’t have to go to WVU; you just have to be from West Virginia to be a WVU fan. It comes with the territory.
“Not like this, but we have a pretty good following, too, when we go to Texas. People leave the state for jobs, but they grew up loving the Mountaineers. We have a good following.”