INDIANAPOLIS — After the buzzer sounded in West Virginia’s 84-67 win over Morehead State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, coaches and players surrounded Bob Huggins, giving “Huggy Bear” all the bear hugs.
Huggins, 67, won his 900th career game Friday, becoming the sixth Division I men’s basketball coach to reach the milestone (minimum 10 seasons in Div. I). He joins Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Roy Williams and Bob Knight among Div. I coaches with 900 wins.
Huggins will face Boeheim on Sunday when West Virginia, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, faces No. 11 seed Syracuse, which beat San Diego State 78-62 on Friday.
“I love those guys, and it’s gratifying that they can be a part of it,” Huggins said of his players. “They enjoy it a lot more than I do, but that’s pretty neat. When they have something to look back on and share with whomever, hopefully it’s one of the positive things that happened in their athletic career. Took ’em long enough, though. Took us three games to finally get there.”
West Virginia dropped its final two games before the NCAA tournament, both to Oklahoma State, so Huggins had to wait until Friday to reach No. 900. The Mountaineers opened the game on a 17-6 run, then fell behind midway through the first half before controlling play for most of the final 13 minutes.
Sophomore guard Miles McBride scored a career-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting and had six assists in 36 minutes. Three other WVU players scored in double figures, including forward Derek Culver, who overcome a rough first half to finish with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
“Being able to be here for him to get that 900th win, it means a lot, so I’m really happy we got it done today,” McBride said.
Added Huggins: “That was their topic of conversation. It wasn’t mine — it was theirs, which tells you what kind of guys they are. We’ve got really good guys.”
Now in his 39th season, Huggins first became a head coach in 1980 at Walsh College, an NAIA program at the time now known as Walsh University, and won 71 games in three seasons. He then moved to Akron, making his first NCAA tournament appearance in 1986.
Huggins spent 16 seasons at Cincinnati, guiding the Bearcats to the Final Four in 1992 and 14 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. He spent a season at Kansas State before arriving at West Virginia, his alma mater. Huggins guided WVU to a Final Four in 2010, four other Sweet Sixteen appearances and 10 trips to the NCAA tournament.
He is 900-381 as a head coach with 25 NCAA tournament appearances and a 34-24 record in the event.