Mountaineers, Bulldogs to Hook Up on ESPN2

  • By John Antonik
  • |
  • December 09, 2013 07:40 PM
  • |
Probable Mountaineer Starters (6-3)
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Class Stats
1 Nathan Adrian F 6-9 230 Fr. 6.0 ppg., 3.3 rpg.
5 Devin Williams F 6-9 255 Fr. 10.0 ppg., 7.8 rpg.
34 Kevin Noreen F 6-10 250 Jr. 3.3 ppg., 3.2 rpg.
10 Eron Harris G 6-3 195 So. 18.9 ppg., 4.1 rpg.
3 Juwan Staten G 6-1 190 Jr. 16.3 ppg. 5.9 rpg
Probable Bulldog Starters (8-1)
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Class Stats
35 Sam Dower Jr. F 6-9 243 Sr. 15.3 ppg., 7.2 rpg.
24 Przemek Karnowski F 7-1 296 So. 8.9 ppg., 7.6 rpg.
4 Kevin Pangos G 6-2 180 Jr. 19.8 ppg., 3.1 rpg.
5 Gary Bell Jr. G 6-2 205 Jr. 13.8 ppg., 2.6 rpg.
11 David Stockton G 5-11 165 Sr. 5.7 ppg., 2.4 rpg.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Tuesday night’s game against 20th-ranked Gonzaga will be the first nationally ranked non-conference opponent to play at the WVU Coliseum since West Virginia played host to eighth-ranked Purdue on Jan. 16, 2011.
The Mountaineers defeated the Boilermakers, 68-64, behind a 17-point, nine-rebound effort from forward Kevin Jones that afternoon.
For West Virginia (6-3) to have a similar result on Tuesday night against Gonzaga, it is going to have to play dramatically better than its last two meetings against the Bulldogs in the 2012 NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh and last year’s game in Spokane when they buried the Mountaineers with a barrage of 3-pointers and easy transition baskets.
“I didn’t play until like the last couple of minutes, but what I do remember was them hitting a lot of shots – open or not open; they hit their shots,” sophomore guard Eron Harris recalled before Monday afternoon’s practice. “They played pretty fluid and it didn’t look like they had any clashes. They just played.”
Indeed, they just played – as Mark Few’s teams typically do. Many of the same guys who lit up the Mountaineers in last year’s game in Spokane will be making the trip to Morgantown, including high-scoring guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell.
Pangos leads the Bulldogs with an average of 19.8 points per game and draws the most attention, but Bell has also thrived in a supporting role, says West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
“I think Pangos has been so good that Bell has been overlooked, but he’s had a terrific career,” said Huggins.
In the NCAA tournament loss to the Bulldogs two years ago in Pittsburgh, Huggins thought Gonzaga did a great job of taking away West Virginia’s No. 1 scoring option in Kevin Jones, and the rest of the team didn’t do their part to step up and make shots.
If Gonzaga tries to do that Tuesday night with either Eron Harris (18.9 ppg.) or Juwan Staten (16.3 ppg.), Huggins believes his team has enough firepower left to make up the difference.
“We have more people who can make shots now than what we had since when Da’Sean (Butler), Wells (Wellington Smith), KJ (Jones) and Truck (Bryant) were here,” said Huggins.
Harris says it will be important for West Virginia’s backcourt to set the tone on early on against the Bulldogs.
“We’ve got to attack their guards and try and get them into foul trouble,” he explained. “Our goal is to get their bench into the game.”
All three of West Virginia’s losses this year have come against power conference teams, and in each instance, Huggins thought his young team left something out on the floor.
“Obviously there may be a game or two that we will look back on and say we coulda-shoulda won, but that’s youth,” he said. “We lost to Wisconsin (by seven), who plays all veterans, and we lost to Missouri (by nine) who basically plays all veterans. The Virginia Tech game, you can’t miss nine free throws and 16 layups and win.”
In what is likely a product of youth, the Mountaineers have played much better this year at the Coliseum than they have on the road, albeit against mostly lesser competition. West Virginia is averaging 91.6 points per game at the Coliseum compared to just 74.5 points per game away from home.
“We’re more together and we can be even better than we are,” predicted Harris. “We’ve got more guys who want to listen. We have guys who want to compete and we’re not selfish.”
“I watch them and they are getting better,” noted Huggins. “There are a lot of years when you watch and you say, ‘Are we getting any better?’ These guys, to a large degree, had so far to go. They knew nothing coming in and you can see them getting better every day.”
But will that be good enough to knock off the 8-1 Bulldogs on Tuesday night?
“They’re good,” conceded Huggins. “They are a typical Gonzaga team. They’ve got three really good perimeter guys in Pangos, (David) Stockton and Bell. They’ve done a good job of bringing in transfers that kind of fit and fit their needs. They’ve done a great job with foreign guys. It’s a typical Gonzaga team and Fewy does a great job of coaching them.”
“I just see good basketball players with good heads,” added Harris. “They’re confident players. They’re (guards) are not big, fast or athletic, they’re just comfortable when they play and I think we need to match that.”
ESPN2 will televise the game nationally. Tip off is set for 9 p.m. and remaining tickets will be available at the gate tomorrow night for the discounted price of $10. Online ticket sales will be accepted until 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Women's Soccer - 08/18/17
No. 1 WVU Opens with Big Win
Volleyball - 08/18/17
2017 Volleyball Season Outlook