As the saying goes, "it's not how you start, it's how you
and West Virginia couldn't finish the job against Gonzaga on Tuesday night.
"We are so close to being pretty good, but at the same time, we are so far away," said head coach Bob Huggins following his team's 80-76 loss to the Bulldogs.
After a strong showing in the first half the Mountaineers carried a 39-35 lead into the locker room at the half. However, toward the end of the game the Mountaineers began to cool down while Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos began to heat up.
Pangos nailed three, three-pointers late in the contest to lift his team over West Virginia. The Bulldogs escaped the WVU Coliseum with a well-fought victory.
"Our margin for error is not real big," Huggins said. "We can't take plays off; we can't not run back down the floor. We're getting close, we aren't there yet but we're getting close."
Now West Virginia (6-4) will turn their attention to a struggling Marshall squad. Marshall (4-5) is trying to snap a three game losing skid after losing their most recent game to Penn State, 90-77.
Kareem Canty scored 28 for the Thundering Herd in that loss while forwards Elijah Pittman and Shawn Smith both chipped in with 10 points.
"Marshall's good. They're talented," said Huggins. "Other than Missouri, they're probably as athletic as anyone we've played. Canty's good, he's really good."
Even though Canty was able to score a lot, it was 8 turnovers in the first half and 12 in total that help Penn State put Marshall away. Penn State led by as much as 26 at one point, although Marshall was able to cut into the deficit late in the contest the Thundering Herd just couldn't keep up.
Marshall shot 26-66 (39.4 percent) from the field, 9-20 (45 percent) from behind the arc and 16-30 (53.3 percent) from the foul line.
Eron Harris for West Virginia put on a clinic against Gonzaga. The sophomore guard exploded in the first half and finished the game as the team's leading scorer with 23 points. Juwan Staten scored 17 and Terry Henderson added 15.
As a team the Mountaineers shot 27-61 (44.3 percent) from the field, 7-20 (35 percent) from three-point land and 19-23 (82.6 percent) from the free throw line.
West Virginia and Marshall met last season and the Mountaineers were able to pick-up the win 69-59. The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd have established a rivalry over the years but Huggins believes his young team doesn't really understand just how big the rivalry is.
"Unless you experience it, you don't know what it is," Huggins said. "It's a hard game."
Some players who might have an idea of what it's like to play in this rivalry game include Harris, Staten and Kevin Noreen. All of them played in the game last season and Harris was even ejected near the end of the game after a scuffled unfolded.
"Other than him [Harris], Staten and ‘Sweat' [Noreen], how many guys are there, not many," said Huggins in regards to his young squads knowledge and experience of playing in this kind of rivalry game.
Huggins is also looking forward to playing the game in Charleston. The game will take place inside the Civic Center. Huggins has mentioned on several occasions his displeasure with game attendance so far this season at the Coliseum in Morgantown but he trusts that the Civic Center will have an electric atmosphere.
Tipoff between West Virginia and Marshall is set for 7:30 PM from the Charleston Civic Center. The game will be broadcasted live on ROOT Sports Network.