MORGANTOWN - West Virginia couldn't handle No. 19 Gonzaga in Spokane as the Mountaineers lose their season opener, 84-50.
These two teams kicked off the ESPN Tip Off Marathon that includes 24 hours of non-stop college basketball. While Gonzaga seemed more than prepared, West Virginia looked as if it was still September.
West Virginia was seeking revenge after falling to the Bulldogs in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, 77-54.
The starting five for the Mountaineers (0-1) consisted of Juwan Staten, Jabarie Hinds, Mat Humphrey, Aaric Murray, and Deniz Kilicli. However, several other players would get minutes in the first game of the season.
It was an ugly start from both teams, but Gonzaga was able to pick it up after the first ten minutes.
The Mountaineers only lead came two-and-a-half minutes after the tip, but was gone about as quick as it came. A one-point deficit in the first five minutes was the slimmest margin of the game.
A 16-0 run by Gonzaga left West Virginia in the dust very early on. Not only did the Bulldogs look good, but the Mountaineers couldn't help themselves as they were riddled with mistakes.
West Virginia had 18 points at the end of the first half. They nearly matched that total in turnovers, with 15.
Eleven different players saw the court for the first time this season. The fatigue and fouls from the Mountaineers seemed to have an impact in that decision from Coach Huggins.
A 14-6 run by the Mountaineers had the deficit down to 18 early in the second half. However, a visible lack of defensive effort led to a 7-0 run by Gonzaga, making a comeback very unlikely.
Gonzaga (2-0) was led by sophomore point guard Kevin Pangos. The Ontario native controlled the ball offensively and set up plays for the Bulldogs all night. He finished with 13 points.
Gary Bell Jr. also made his presence felt. He was able to make a difference offensively in more ways than one. He racked up 15 points and four assists, both team highs.
Przezek Karnowski came off the bench for Gonzaga after a 22-point performance in their opening game last Friday. The seven-foot-one center gave WVU fits at times using his size and patience. He had six points and four rebounds.
Hard to find a bright spot for any players wearing blue and gold. Aaric Murray stood out, especially in the second half. He was able to put up 14 points, a team high. He also added three blocks.
Overall, the team struggled to find any offense. They shot just 27.8% from the field on 15-of-54 shooting. They were 3-for-25 from beyond the arc.
Senior leader Deniz Kilicli was held in check throughout the entire game, as his teammates struggled to get him the ball in the post. He was a man of fives. He finished with five points, five rebounds, five turnovers, and five fouls as he fouled out of the game.
Kevin Noreen fouled out as well, just nine minutes into the second half. It was his first action since breaking his ankle in January.
The Mountaineers don't see action again until November 22, when they play the Marist Red Foxes in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic. Gonzaga is in that tournament as well, but play South Dakota prior to that, on November 18.