The Cancun Challenge returns to Morgantown on Friday when the Boston Terriers (3-2) take on West Virginia (3-0).
The two programs have met twice previously, with the Mountaineers taking victories in both contests — although they haven’t played one another since 1975. Bob Huggins, on the other hand, last faced the Terriers in the 2002 NCAA Tournament while at Cincinnati. He took a 90-52 victory in the first round.
Both teams are coming off victories to open the Cancun Challenge, with the Mountaineers defeating Northern Colorado at home and the Terriers upsetting South Carolina on the road, 78-70.
“I thought they played really well,” Huggins said. “They shot the ball really well. They really ran good offense and mixed up their defense.”
Joe Jones is in his ninth season leading the Terriers, in which time he’s amassed the second-highest number of wins in school history with 140. Jones has nine returners on this year’s squad, including Javante McCoy and Walter Whyte, who both averaged double-digit scoring numbers in their freshman years.
Both Whyte and McCoy are off to a similar start this season, averaging 16.4 and 11.2 points per game. Now you can add Max Mahoney to that list, as the senior is chipping in 11.2 points as well.
West Virginia’s returners have also had a strong start to this year. Jermaine Haley has been a motor for the Mountaineers, averaging 12.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, and Emmitt Matthews Jr. isn’t too far behind with 12.0 and 6.0, respectively.
The story of Huggins’s team this year is the newcomers, though, and another wrinkle could very well be added to that tonight. Oscar Tshiebwe had a historic performance in the Backyard Brawl, scoring 20 points and grabbing 17 rebounds against Pitt, becoming the fourth freshman in WVU history to do so. Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil have also made a name for themselves, with Sherman even cracking the starting lineup in WVU’s last game against Northern Colorado.
Huggins may also debut Gabe Osabuohien, the transfer forward from Arkansas. He will try to bring versatility and a defensive boost to the WVU frontcourt.
No matter the results of this game, both squads will be heading to Cancun, Mexico to finish out the rest of the Cancun Challenge. West Virginia will face Northern Iowa in their subsequent contest, and Boston will face Northern Colorado.
The action tips off tonight at 7 p.m. tonight at the WVU Coliseum. The game will be broadcast on your local Nexstar station and streamed on WVUSports.com. If you can’t watch live, we will have updates as the game unfolds on social media and right here on WVIllustrated.com.