WVU, Coastal Carolina Meet Tonight in CBI Matchup in Morgantown

West Virginia's Derek Culver (1) shoots a free throw during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

MORGANTOWN — The plan is a very simple one: Play more games in order to build team chemistry with an eye toward next year’s basketball season.

“That was my thought coming into this (the CBI) thing,” veteran West Virginia coach Bob Huggins explained during Saturday’s teleconference. “The idea of playing five or six more games would be beneficial.”

Now Huggins will lead his young team into the quarterfinal round of the Roman College Basketball Invitational to take on Coastal Carolina tonight at 7.

Coastal Carolina knocked off Howard by an 81-72 margin in its opening round contest.

“Well, they are very athletic,” Huggins said. “And they will run multiple defenses, so we are going to have to make sure we are ready for just about anything.”

The game pits two head coaches — Huggins (860) and Coastal Carolina’s Cliff Ellis (841) — who have combined to win 1,701 games during their coaching tenures. Monday, however, will be the first time the two will go head-to-head.

“I know Cliff (Ellis) real, well from our time on the Nike coaching circuit,” Huggins said. “He’s an excellent coach and I know he will have his guys ready to play.”

The Chanticleers, who finished 9-9 in the Sun Belt Conference, evened their season mark at 16-16 with their first-round win but have dropped seven of their last 11, including two of the last three.

Senior forward Zac Cuthbertson leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 18.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He will be joined in the starting five by senior Ajay Sanders (7.5 ppg) and freshmen Ebrima Dibba (8.0 ppg) and DeVante Jones (13.7 ppg) at the guards with junior Tommy Burton (7.3 ppg) at the other forward.

WVU (15-20) will counter with freshman Jordan McCabe (5.6 ppg) and junior Jermaine Haley (7.0 ppg) at the guards with freshmen Derek Culver (11.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg) and Emmitt Matthews Jr. (4.9 ppg) and junior Lamont West (10.8 ppg) at the forwards.

Haley is coming off a 24-point effort in WVU’s 77-63 win over Grand Canyon University. The junior college transfer has scored 151 points in the last nine games for the Mountaineers.

Three other Mountaineers reached the double figure mark with Matthews Jr. and West each scoring 11 points while Moundsville native Chase Harler added 10 points, four assists and one steal.

Culver added 10 rebounds and seven points while McCabe finished with five points, four assists and a pair of steals. Cameron’s Logan Routt saw 15 minutes of action, scoring five points and hauling down five rebounds and blocking three shots.

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