Mountaineers and Zags Clash in Sweet Sixteen Showdown - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers and Zags Clash in Sweet Sixteen Showdown

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West Virginia takes on Gonzaga tonight at 7:39 ET in the Sweet Sixteen in San Jose, CA. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) West Virginia takes on Gonzaga tonight at 7:39 ET in the Sweet Sixteen in San Jose, CA. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

West Virginia’s road to the Final Four has left Buffalo, New York, and reached its next destination, San Jose, California. The fourth-seeded Mountaineers will take on the top-seed in the West Region, Gonzaga, tonight in a Sweet Sixteen showdown.

WVU is coming off an 83-71 victory over fifth-seeded Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Jevon Carter’s 24 points and Daxter Miles’ 18 powered the Mountaineers to their first Sweet Sixteen since 2015.

Tonight marks the fourth meeting between the two teams, with the Zags holding a 3-0 advantage. Gonzaga tallied a 77-54 victory in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, followed by an 84-50 win to open their 2013 season and most recently a four-point win in Morgantown in December of 2013.

In that last game, GU’s 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Now a senior and averaging 12.4 point per game, Karnowski will still be in that line up, and a threat, when the two teams meet for round four tonight. They also have another 7-footer in freshman forward Zach Collins in the line up.


Gonzaga is averaging 83.7 points per game and is lead by an average of 16.7 points per contest by Nigel William-Goss.


“He's a good player. Good size. He's poised. Try to play at his own pace, and it's our guards' job to make him uncomfortable,” said junior guard Jevon Carter.

It also has three other players averaging double-digits this season in Jordan Mathews, Zach Collins and Johnathon Williams.

GU is 34-1 on the season. That lone loss coming by eight points to BYU back on February 25.


Gonzaga toppled 16-seed North Dakota State 66-46 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Jordan Mathews lead the way with 16 points. The Bulldogs only committed nine turnovers in the win. In the second round, almost everything but the outcome would lean the other way.

WVU shot 50 percent from the field against the Irish and hit 21-of-26 free throws. Defense was the key to success as the Mountaineers held Notre Dame to 41 percent field-goal shooting and forced nine turnovers in the first half, 14 total. WVU forced 15 the game before against Bucknell, which should come as no shock since it has led the country all year in turnovers forced (20.1).

“I think no one is exactly like West Virginia. They lead the nation in forced turnovers. So you can't really simulate or duplicate what they try to do defensively,” said Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss.

Head Coach Mark Few added that it is “impossible to simulate the intensity, the physicality, just the relentlessness that West Virginia brings.”

Gonzaga is making its third Sweet Sixteen appearance in as many seasons. Last season it saw a 63-60 loss to Syracuse.

West Virginia is making its first since 2015 where it faced a 79-38 loss to top-ranked Kentucky.

“This year is this year. Two years ago is two years ago. It's totally different. This is a different team. We're playing a different team. Different region. Different state. This is different. Everything's different,” said junior guard Jevon Carter.

And this year the Mountaineers are hoping the outcome is another factor that differs from that 2015 Sweet Sixteen.

WVU is currently 28-8 on the season with its most recent loss coming to Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship. The Mountaineers have knocked up the top teams in the nation this season, but they have also given up losses to teams near the bottom of the Big 12. Both experiences they plan use to their advantage against another nation’s best.

“We played against a lot of good teams, we've been in a lot of tough battles. I feel like our team is ready for those battles, poised for those situations. And we should be ready if we get into those type of situations,” said senior guard Tarik Phillip.

And we will see what type of situation arises this evening as the Mountaineers and Bulldogs go head to head tonight at 7:39 p.m. ET. The winner advances to the Elite Eight where they will face No. 2-seed Arizona/No. 11-seed Xaiver.

“We want to go in there and prove people wrong. We have a lot of doubters. We keep that in mind. Like Nate said, we're trying to cap off Coach Hugs' legacy, give him a national championship. It would mean a lot for everybody in the state of West Virginia. It's what we came to do. We just came to win,” added Carter.

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