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Rivalry or not, WVU and UConn to play for the first time since 2014

On Wednesday night, West Virginia and UConn will play for the first time since 2014, and only the second time since West Virginia left for the Big 12.

West Virginia and Connecticut have played a total of 20 times since the 1995-1996 season. The Mountaineers claimed victory in only five of those matchups. West Virginia went to the Final Four in 2010, while UConn won the National Championship in 2011 and 2014. The two teams have been the home of two legendary head coaches in Bob Huggins and recently retired Jim Calhoun.

Keep in mind the last time UConn came to Morgantown, they were ranked No. 16 in the country and West Virginia was unranked. Tomorrow night when they tipoff against the Mountaineers, they will be the No. 15 team in the country, while again West Virginia will be unranked.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said he was reminiscing on the rivalry and how often these two teams used to play each other, until he saw how good this year’s UConn team was.

“I kinda thought about it (the rivalry) until I watched them play — they’re good,” Huggins said.

Dating back to 1962, West Virginia is 6-16 against the Huskies and they have been beaten as a ranked opponent three times during that span. So will Wednesday night be a rivalry game — probably not, but will it be a game featuring two storied programs who have deep rooted history — there is no doubt.

Current West Virginia players did not grow up in the Big East days. Any 18 year old on the roster, was only eight or nine years old the last time the Mountaineers and Huskies played at the WVU Coliseum. The only people that remembers the past are the fans and Huggins.

One of those examples of history is in 2008, when Mountaineer Joe Alexander dunked on a UConn player in the Big East Quarterfinals, capping of a win over the No. 15 Huskies. Huggins said Alexander was the type of player who wanted to prove something to everyone, and said he did not need to wait for the UConn defender to complete the dunk, but that was just his personality.

“I didn’t want him to do it, he was kind of waiting for him — that’s Joe,” Huggins said.

The last time these two teams faced off was Nov. 23, 2014. West Virginia won that matchup against the No. 17 Huskies 78-68, with Juwan Staten being the leading scorer for the Mountaineers.

Over the last 13 matchups UConn has been ranked, West Virginia has won five of those matchups.

Huggins’ biggest worry heading into tomorrows matchup isn’t the history or the talent of UConn however, it is about his own team. Huggins said he just wants his team to be playing better, no matter who the opponent is.

“I’m worried about us more than I am anything. We’re struggling, [I’m] trying to get us fixed,” Huggins said. “I have many concerns, it’s hard to sit here and put them in order.”

The Mountaineers and Huskies will tipoff at 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum on Wednesday night.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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