MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After Bob Huggins and the West Virginia basketball team made 5-year-old Nicholas Wince a member for Tuesday, the kid with the underdeveloped heart gave something back.
“He said throw it to the guy with the goggles,” cracked Huggins after the Mountaineers disposed of Texas 71-64 with the begoggled Devin Williams leading the charge.
Huggins joined Little Nick at midcourt before the game, though the Make-A-Wish match began much earlier. The boy from Middlebourne, W.Va., took part in the team’s afternoon shootaround, mugged for a player-intro video that looped on the scoreboard and went through layup drills with the Mountaineers. He dribbled and heaved and never got the ball near the rim, though players began treating his attempts as alley-oops.
Nick wore a No. 5 jersey, just like his favorite player, 6-foot-9 sophomore Devin Williams, who admitted the kid’s presence “did something to me” as No. 20 West Virginia took aim at its first win over Texas since 2013.
“I’ve got little nephews, so if someone that age wants to hang around me and idol me, why not give him some comfort and put a smile on his face,” Williams said.
Yet Williams laughed off the suggestion he pinned his 14-point, seven-rebound performance on some pregame promise to Little Nick.
“No, man, I don’t put no pressure on myself like that,” he said.