Gonzaga already looks like a team in midseason form as the 19th-ranked Bulldogs cruised to an 84-50 victory over West Virginia in the first game of the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.
It was the old sports adage it's not who you play but when you play them, and that certainly was the case tonight.
West Virginia (0-1) was never in this one, falling behind by 15 after the 12-minute timeout and trailing by 27 at halftime. The Mountaineers missed their first 10 3-point field goal attempts before freshman Terry Henderson
finally got one to go down with 4:27 remaining in the first half. After that, Gonzaga was content to play zone the rest of the way as the Mountaineers missed 23 of their 26 3-point attempts for the evening.
“It’s embarrassing,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I care way too much about this University, the program and the state for this to happen. It’s my job to fix it and I’ve got to fix it.”
The closest West Virginia could reduce its deficit was 18 points, 50-32, before Gonzaga ran off seven straight to get its lead back to 25.
In addition to its shooting difficulties, West Virginia also turned the ball over 18 times and was whistled for 28 fouls – bigs Deniz Kiclicli and Kevin Noreen
both fouling out and Aaric Murray
finishing the game with four fouls.
“I’m not very happy with Deniz today but in all fairness to Deniz, when you go down there and post and they keep looking you off it’s hard to keep posting,” said Huggins.
Murray was the only West Virginia player to reach double figures with 14 points. Jabarie Hinds
added 9 and Gary Browne
“I think we have to find out who wants to play and who really wants to play,” said Huggins. “We’ve missed shots before and we’ve thrown it around a little bit before but we’ve always competed. That’s the biggest problem I have.”
For Gonzaga, now 2-0, Gary Bell Jr. led five double-figure scorers with 15 points. Guy Landi Edi had 14, Kevin Pangos scored 13, Elias Harris 11 and Michael Hart added 10 off the bench.
“We overran the ball about 10 times and I bet you of the 10 times we overran the ball they scored on eight of them,” said Huggins. “It’s a selfish basketball play (because it puts teammates at a disadvantage).”
Gonzaga shot 52 percent from the floor (26 of 50), including 9 of 16 from 3-point distance, and hit 23 of 36 from the line. The Zags also had 17 assists and held a 33-31 advantage on the glass.
The Mountaineers have 10 days to go back to work and try and figure things out before playing again on Nov. 22 against Marist in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in the opening game of the Old Spice Classic
Other teams in the tournament include Vanderbilt, Davidson, UTEP, Oklahoma, Clemson and Gonzaga. The Mountaineers and Bulldogs could meet again over the course of the three-day event.