Coach: Mark Few
Top scorer: Kevin Pangos, 13.8
Top rebounder: Elias Harris, 8.7
Keys to victory: Player after player stressed two things: Rebounding and limiting turnovers, but the main emphasis was the boards. Gonzaga is plus-6.5 per game, 19th in the country. West Virginia is plus-6.8, 14th in the country, led by senior forward Kevin Jones, who is particularly adept working the offensive glass. GU was outrebounded twice by Saint Mary’s in losses and by Illinois in a December loss.
The Bulldogs need to operate effectively against an aggressive, pressure-oriented defense. Elias Harris has come up big in four NCAA games, averaging 17.5 points and 6.8 rebounds, and Robert Sacre has been productive at 11.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. GU’s backcourt has been solid most of the season, but Kevin Pangos is coming off a tough night (3 of 18) in the WCC tournament championship game. The Bulldogs need Pangos to return to form.
Coach: Bob Huggins
Top scorer: Kevin Jones, 20.1
Top rebounder: Jones, 11.1
Keys to victory: The Mountaineers have struggled at times to make shots, but they’ve overcome it with their relentless rebounding effort. The Big Three of Jones, Darryl “Truck” Bryant and Deniz Kilicli typically produce 48 of the team’s 71 points. They’ll be relied upon even more on the big stage with two freshmen in the starting lineup and five on the bench.
Jones grabs 4.3 offensive rebounds per game. He’s a capable spot-up shooter and can drive to the hoop. Bryant made just 36.2 percent of his field-goal attempts, but he doesn’t lack confidence. He hoisted 224 3s (making 31 percent) but uses his 195-pound frame to get into the lane and draw fouls.
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