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December 9, 2013

WVU Ready to Battle No. 20 Gonzaga






In each of the past two season, West Virginia has matched up with Gonzaga. At the end of the 2011-2012 season, WVU and Gonzaga met in Pittsburgh for an NCAA tournament game and last year the two opened up in Spokane.

Both times Gonzaga got the best of West Virginia and blew out the Mountaineers. In that NCAA tournament game, the Bulldogs topped WVU 77-54 while in last season's opener Gonzaga downed the Mountaineers 84-50.

Tomorrow night at the WVU Coliseum, Head Coach Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers (6-3) welcome in the No. 20 Gonzaga Bulldogs (8-1) in what will serve as the third meeting in three years.

Huggins and WVU leading scorer, Eron Harris remembers what Gonzaga has done to them the past two seasons.

"I remember they hit a lot of shots whether they were open or not. They played fluid," said Harris. "Coach has been talking about the past two years against Gonzaga, we just have to go out there and play hard, they have a new team and we have a new team."

For the Zags guard Kevin Pangos leads the way at 19.8 points per game, while Sam Dower Jr. is a force down low totaling 15.3 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Additionally Gary Bell Jr., and David Stockton provide veteran leadership at the other guard spots for Head Coach Mark Few.

"They have a lot of outside attack. To me Kevin Pangos is an NBA point guard, they have an NBA type point guard in him, and they have a dead eye shooter in Bell," said Harris.

Gonzaga comes off a 80-68 home win over New Mexico State, while WVU comes off a tough 80-71 road loss to Missouri.

This game will be the first road game for Gonzaga this season. The Bulldogs are 6-0 at home and 2-1 on neutral courts. Their lone loss of the season came to Dayton during the Maui Invitational Tournament.

Having watched tape of Gonzaga, Huggins believes this year's version of his team is more equipped to take on the Bulldogs.

"Probably, we have more guys that can make shots now. I think what they did to us in Pittsburgh was take away the things that we relied on with KJ (Kevin Jones) and then when other guys don't make shots it's awfully hard," said Huggins. "I think we have guys that can make shots now."

WVU has three players in Harris, Juwan Staten and Devin Williams averaging double digits in scoring while both Remi Dibo and Terry Henderson average over nine points per game. Gonzaga will have to account for all five of those guys, something they didn't have to do in the past.

Though the matchup against Gonzaga looks better for WVU, one subject is still bothering Huggins. He wants more people in attendance tomorrow night. WVU is only averaging 5,789 people in attendance per game in a building that holds 14,000 fans.

"I need it for my psyche, I'm tired of walking in there and seeing so many empty seats. When are students are into it, this is a great place," said Huggins. "Most teams play better at home but over the years historically West Virginia has played great in this arena and to a large degree because of the fan base. And when you don't have that, you lose a little. I think if we get the students back involved I think would help considerably."

Huggins and WVU tip off against Gonzaga at 9 PM.



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