There are any number of college basketball programs that would love to hand Gonzaga a loss and somewhere near the top of that list is West Virginia.
Gonzaga blasted West Virginia 84-50 early last season, the most lopsided loss of coach Bob Huggins’ 33-year, 1,018-game career. GU also pounded WVU 77-54 in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
The teams collide at 6 tonight at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown with the 20th-ranked Bulldogs (8-1) counting on seeing a different Mountaineers’ squad. West Virginia is 6-3 after dropping two of its last three in a tougher portion of its nonconference schedule.
The Mountaineers, who have struggled mightily on offense against Gonzaga, are averaging 83.6 points, making 48.3 percent from the field and 44 percent of their 3-pointers.
“Obviously, they are motivated to come after us after the last two games,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “They are shooting the ball better and playing much better.”
GU guard Kevin Pangos, despite a toe injury suffered in practice, played 38 minutes in Saturday’s win over New Mexico State. Gary Bell Jr. (hip) went to the bench early in the second half of that game. Both are expected to play and are listed as starters.
WVU sophomore guard Eron Harris, who played just seven minutes in last season’s contest, has made a team-high 26 3-pointers and averages 18.9 points. Junior guard Juwan Staten, scoreless in 34 minutes vs. Gonzaga a year ago, checks in at 16.3 points and 7.2 assists per game.
West Virginia, 139-78 in Huggins’ eight seasons, has won 51 of its last 52 games at home in December. The Mountaineers have won their last five games over ranked nonconference opponents at home.
Zags drop in polls
Gonzaga dropped one spot in the Associated Press and USA Today polls. The Bulldogs, who went 1-0 last week, are No. 20 in the AP and No. 16, sharing the spot with Iowa State, in the USA Today rankings.