West Virginia’s Bob Huggins torches Marshall after coach calls Huggs ‘afraid’

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West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins didn’t hold back when commenting on the West Virginia-Marshall “rivalry” that took place over the weekend.

The Mountaineers knocked off the Thundering Herd 69-66, and after the game, new Marshall head coach Dan D’antoni took aim at Huggins and West Virginia, calling them out to try and get the Mountaineers to schedule them twice during the season.

He said Huggy Bear was scared.

“I heard suggestions for a home and home,” D’antoni said. “Here’s my suggestion: Morgantown, Charleston. Next year Charleston, Huntington and just keep it that way. It’s good for the state. If they back out now they’re afraid of us. We’re coming back.”

That wasn’t a good idea.

Huggins, on his radio show on Monday night, took a blowtorch to the Herd. You can here it all here (click 12/15 Bob Huggins, it’s early in the show), but I’ll transcribe it for you anyway. After some small talk about interviews he’s done with host Tony Caridi and the other little things that coaches get asked on their radio shows, Huggins is asked how he’s doing. His response? “A lot of things now are laughable.” Oh really, Bob. Do elaborate (this gets long, but it’s totally worth it, I promise. I’ve also, with the help from friends over at Smoking Musket, cut this down to what Huggins is saying without all the banter):

Huggins: I probably coached a thousand games. And now I’m scared. Scared to play Marshall. Scared to death. It’s terrible. Must have been when I turned 61 that the fear set in because I’ve never felt that way before. Now I’m just scared to death of Marshall. But that’s what the word is.

[…]

I’m just saying I guess I’m getting old. […] The whole thing’s comical. I just happen to get the paper. We have a little column about what a rivalry we have. But really the headline is the Morgantown High-University High girls. And above that Trickett’s in limbo. And they think this is a rivalry. It is sports this time, though.

Tony: You do not view this game as a rivalry?

Huggins: Tony. How can it be a rivalry when they don’t even care to write about it in the paper? I mean, those are the guys asking me the questions. ‘Is this a rivalry?’ Well, obviously not. You don’t write about it. I mean, rivalries they put on the front page. They can’t wait, you know what I mean? They get really excited. We obviously don’t get very excited.

Tony: So would it bother you if the game went away?

Huggins: No.

Tony: It would not?

Huggins: No. Not at all. Not at all.

(Applause! There was applause!)

Do you want to get into it? Let’s be honest. I have all the RPIs of all the people we’ve played this year. Going into the game Marshall was 270 in the RPI. After playing us they jumped all the way up to 237. Now, you know what that would do for us if we happen not to win? We were 36 I think it was coming into the game.

You try not to play anybody below 200, you know that. And now they want to play twice in a year? Are you kidding me? It’s like I said: Why don’t we do what’s best for West Virginia University and the state of West Virginia. I don’t think it’s my job to support them. I don’t think that’s part of my contract.

He can say I’m afraid all he wants to say I’m afraid. I’ve probably coached 1,116 more games than he has. It’s ridiculous to say something like that. We’re afraid. Yeah, we’re really afraid. It’s crazy, we’ve beaten Duke. Mike’s a pretty good coach. Was I afraid? I don’t think I was afraid playing Duke. Played Boeheim. Used to play him every year. He’s a pretty good coach, I wasn’t afraid. Why would I be afraid?

And the thing that’s most laughable, and I’ll get in trouble for saying it, I know, but I’m to the point in my life where I really don’t care. How about this: “We’re back.” That was their sixth loss in a row. “We’re back”. (Laughs) “We’re back”, alright. Honestly it becomes laughable. It’s laughable. So they lose by three, “we’re back.” It’s their sixth loss in a row. Three of them at home.

Jay Jacobs: “Either he’s the dumbest guy or he’s the smartest guy in the world.”

Huggins: My fear is that our people get caught up in this stuff and do something that’s not in our best interest. It’s not in our best interest to play a team who […] this is the fifth time in ten years that they’ve been 160 in the RPI or worse. How’s that in our best interest? It’s not in our best interest. It’s not in the best interest of West Virginia basketball.

To go to Charleston, I think it really is good for the kids that can’t get here and those kind of things. Now think of this if you’re Marshall and no one’s coming to your games why wouldn’t you want someone that’s going to fill the place up. They’re not going to fill our place up. It’s not equitable. He wants to sit here and act like it’s equitable, it’s not equitable. We play in the No. 1 RPI league in America. The No. 1 RPI league in America. And has been for quite awhile.

Conference USA’s RPI, as of today, they’re the 15th ranked conference. How is that equitable? It’s not equitable. It’s laughable.

Tony: I’m glad you got that off your chest.

Huggins: Tony, today we had seven teams out of the top 27 in the country. Six of our coaches have been in the Final Four. 60% of our league coaches have been in the Final Four. We’ve had the second-most amount of draft picks, the second-most amount of lottery picks coming out of our league. And that’s with ten teams. The ACC’s No. 1, but they have 16 teams.

We’re the best basketball league in America. And we’re afraid. What a joke. What a joke. It’s laughable, Tony, it’s laughable.

Jay: I thought you were going to say the way you played.

Huggins: Well, that was miserable.

Jay: You mean to tell me he did not stir you up with his comments.

Huggins: Jay you of all people know I love this university and I take great pride in being able to represent this university. And for someone to say that West Virginia University is afraid, please. Please.

Jay: Well they say that they’re going to be there next year.

Huggins: So will we.

(Huggins pulls out a newspaper)

We got the headline for the womens’ game. It’s IUFW. The day before the game.

Tony: Ft. Wayne.

Huggins: That was the headline. The day before the game. It’s a rivalry though, Tony, by god. Here in Morgantown, we don’t even get their box scores. I tell you what, it’s a rivalry, we hang on everything that goes on down there in Marshall. We don’t get their box scores here. You gotta look at. I don’t even know where that is (meaning where in the paper’s national list of box scores they list Marshall games), wherever they are the east or south or whatever to look and see if they won or lost but I doubt that anyone here really does that.

Tony: So basically as you beat around the bush here you’re saying you’re not going to play them twice.

Huggins: It would be a travesty. It would be a travesty.

Tony: You done?

Huggins: It bothers me because, maybe it was a shot at me, I don’t know. But I took it as a shot to our university and that’s not right. I mean, come on. I could go on and on and on.

You try to tell your players “this is where I am in life, and if I wanna aspire to be higher, then I gotta work my butt off.” But it doesn’t come by just saying “why don’t we play four times. Ten maybe.” Come on, man. I try really, really hard not to schedule people below 200. Really, really hard. If you look Lafayette’s in the top 100. We try to research that. Now it’s not a science, but you try. You really try.

VMI’s RPI is better than Marshall’s. Come on. It don’t help us. From a pure basketball standpoint of where we want to go it does not help us. Now it helps them. I understand his point, it helps them. Oh, to get us to come in, fill their place with 7,000 people? That’s a big thing for them. It’s not my job to do that. That’s his job.

Tony: Will you make any move not to play them in the future?

Huggins: I think if this kind of thing continues, why would we? Why we want to sit here and hear we’re afraid? Go find somebody else to play.

Never change, Huggs. Never change.

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.