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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

No. 15 West Virginia replacing No. 12 Tennessee as Gonzaga’s foe in Jimmy V Classic

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 25, 2020

Gonzaga coach Mark Few greets West Virginia Bob Huggins before the first half of their NCAA Sweet Sixteen game, March 23, 2017, in San Jose. (DAN PELLE/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga coach Mark Few greets West Virginia Bob Huggins before the first half of their NCAA Sweet Sixteen game, March 23, 2017, in San Jose. (DAN PELLE/The Spokesman-Review)

Erase No. 12 Tennessee, pencil in No. 15 West Virginia on Gonzaga’s schedule.

The Mountaineers will replace the Volunteers as the opponent for the top-ranked Zags on Wednesday at the Jimmy V Classic. ESPN will televise the game, which tips at 4 p.m. PT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Tennessee pulled out due to COVID-19 concerns in its program.

Gonzaga will now face the top three teams in the preseason Big 12 poll: Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia. The Zags open against sixth-ranked Kansas on Thursday and take on No. 2 Baylor on Dec. 5 in Indianapolis.

Baylor earned seven-first place votes and 79 points from Big 12 coaches. Kansas had three first-place votes and 73 points. West Virginia was next with 61 points.

West Virginia opened its season Wednesday against South Dakota State in Sioux Falls at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic, which has had numerous scheduling changes in response to the pandemic.

The Mountaineers are led by 6-foot-10, 255-pound junior Derek Culver and 6-9, 260-pound Oscar Tshiebwe. The two started 56 games last year and combined to average 21.6 points, 17.9 rebounds and swat 56 shots.

West Virginia, known for its pressure defense, limited opponents to 62.4 points per game while winning the boards by plus-8.1 and forcing 15.6 turnovers last season. The Mountaineers finished 21-10, 9-9 in the Big 12. Coach Bob Huggins has 881 career wins.

Gonzaga has won all four series meetings, the most recent a 61-58 victory fueled by a late 3-pointer by Jordan Mathews as the Zags advanced to the 2017 Elite Eight. GU routed Xavier two days later to reach the Final Four for the first time in program history.

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