West Virginia and Gonzaga Game Preview - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

West Virginia and Gonzaga Game Preview

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Ryan Petrovich, MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia's search for a meaningful win marches on. After coming up short against the likes of Wisconsin and Missouri, the Mountaineers (6-3) just can't seem to put away a big-time team.

They'll get another shot at it though. West Virginia will host Gonzaga (8-1) as the Mountaineers will look to finally get over the hump of beating a top team. Gonzaga enters the match-up as the 20th ranked team in the country.

Gonzaga is coming off a win against New Mexico State 80-68. Sam Dower led the team in scoring with 22 points. Dower scored 14 in the second half to lift his team over New Mexico State. Gerard Coleman scored 21 and Kevin Pangos chipped in with 15. The Bulldogs shot 40 percent from behind the arc and 48.5 percent from the field.

The Bulldogs are shooting 55.8 percent from the field on the season. That's the best shooting percentage in the nation. They also average around 91 points per game, that's fifth best in the nation.

"They look good," said head coach Bob Huggins. "A typical Gonzaga team, three really good guys in Pangos, [David] Stockton, and [Gary] Bell."

In the Mountaineer's last game, West Virginia wasn't able to get anything going and fell to Missouri 80-71. Even though the scoreboard displayed only a nine point loss, it was far worse than that.

Normally West Virginia shoots the ball well. The Mountaineers are shooting near 50 percent in every game but in this game their shooting was as cold as the winter weather outside.

Juwan Staten scored 16 points to lead the team while teammates Gary Browne and Terry Henderson both scored 14. As a team, the Mountaineers only shot 41.5 percent from the field and from three point land they were a mere 4-19 (21.1 percent). They were also 13-21 from the foul line.

"We struggled the other day to make shots," said Huggins. "What I thought would be one of our strengths, but it isn't, our free throw shooting."

There's no doubt that Huggins' squad has had better shooting days. However, Huggins believes that as the season continues his young team can only get better.

"We've played a competitive schedule so far," said Huggins. "Our young guys are continuing to get better as the season progresses. Juwan Staten's been terrific. He has shot the ball so much better than a year ago."

West Virginia is looking to get their shooters back on track against Gonzaga. Eron Harris the team's leading scorer so far this season was held to only 8 points against Missouri.  Harris didn't play a lot last time the Bulldogs and Mountaineers met but this year he'll be looked as a key player for West Virginia.

"I'm just thinking about going forward," said Harris. "Shock the nation."

Even though Harris saw very little playing time last season against the Bulldogs, he still recalls how well the Bulldogs played together as a team.

"They hit shots, open or not," Harris said. "They got guys who can compete. When I watch the Kentuckys and Dukes, they just play."

Another factor that might help the Mountaineers going into this game is the home court advantage. Huggins has been very outspoken about packing the coliseum for this game against the Bulldogs.  

"I need it. I'm tired of walking in here and seeing empty seats," Huggins said. "When our students are into it, it's a great place."

Huggins is hopeful that WVU faithful will come out in full force as they look to pull off an upset in Morgantown.

West Virginia and Gonzaga will tipoff at 9:00 PM from the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN2.

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