PITTSBURGH — West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins should know much more about his team by the end of Friday.
The Mountaineers and Pittsburgh meet for the 187th time on the hardwood with tip-off at the Petersen Events Center set for 7 p.m. The contest, which marks the first November meeting between the two schools, will air on ESPNU.
West Virginia (1-0) plays for the first time in a week following a 94-84 home win over Akron in the season opener.
“We need to play well against a Power Five school and get a win under our belt,” Huggins said.
Pitt, meanwhile, is off to a 2-1 start that features a win over Florida State, a loss to Nicholls State and Tuesday’s 71-57 victory over Robert Morris.
The Mountaineers are seeking their fourth consecutive win in the series, something they haven’t accomplished since the end of Huggins’ playing career in Morgantown. Friday’s game marks the third in a four-game series that runs through next season.
“We’re just worried about getting one,” Huggins said. “I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to that stuff.
“If it continues, it’s going to go back to being the rivalry that it was and that’s fun for both schools and both fan bases.”
The Panthers’unusual start includes a quality 63-61 win over Florida State in the opener and a 75-70 loss to the Colonels.
In his first season at Pitt, junior guard Ryan Murphy leads the team with 17 points per game and has made 9-of-19 three-pointers.
“Murphy really stretches the defense,” Huggins said.
Sophomore guards Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson follow with averages of 15 and 10 points, respectively.
“McGowens played terrific in the second half against Robert Morris,” Huggins noted. “He did everything — rebounded it, drove the ball to the basket and he was really, really good. Twenty-five (points) and eight (rebounds) is a pretty good day.”
Six-foot-10 junior Terrell Brown is the team’s fourth leading scorer at 9.7 points. Brown blocked 60 shots a year ago and should be a formidable challenge for the Mountaineers’ post players.
West Virginia sophomore Derek Culver (6-10) tied for the team lead with 16 points in the season opener, although heralded freshman Oscar Tshiebwe (6-9) was held to five points and five rebounds in only 12 minutes.
Senior Jermaine Haley also scored 16 against the Zips, while sophomore Emmitt Matthews finished with 13 in the win.
Perhaps the biggest brightest spot for the Mountaineers in the opener was freshman guard Miles McBride, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Despite starting against Akron, sophomore point guard Jordan McCabe played only 10 minutes. Fortunately for the Mountaineers, reserve guards Chase Harler and Brandon Knapper each scored nine points, while Taz Sherman added eight in his West Virginia debut.
“We’ve watched a lot of film — a lot more film than what we normally do of ourselves,” Huggins said. “Your good things really stand out on film as well as your transgressions. They got a chance to see the things they did well and a chance to see what they didn’t do very well. That really helps them.”
West Virginia is after its first road win since Feb. 20, 2018, at Baylor. The Mountaineers finished 0-10 in road games last season.
This will be just the second game for West Virginia compared to the fourth for Pitt.
“We basically have three games in,” Huggins said. “We had a good scrimmage against Penn Sate and our Duquesne scrimmage had 9,500 people there. I think we’re OK.”
The Mountaineers lead the all-time series, 98-88.