Morgantown, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - The 20th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs go in search of their fourth straight win on Tuesday night, as they take on the West Virginia Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum.
Gonzaga's one and only setback this season came in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25, losing to Dayton, 84-79. Since then, the Bulldogs have gotten back on track. They finished their stay in Hawaii with triumphs over Chaminade (113-81) and Arkansas (91-81) before returning to their home floor to defeat Coppin State (86-51) and New Mexico State (80-68). This bout will mark their first true road game of the campaign.
After a fast 5-1 start, West Virginia has been trending in the wrong direction in recent weeks with losses in two of three. The Mountaineers dropped a 70-63 home bout versus nationally-ranked Wisconsin on Nov. 27, then they lost in the Big 12/SEC Challenge at Missouri on Dec. 5, 80-71.
Gonzaga and West Virginia met in each of the last two seasons after having never played previously. The Bulldogs won both matchups, including an 84-50 decision in Spokane on Nov. 12, 2012.
The Bulldogs suffered a bit of a scare versus NMSU the last time out, as they trailed for much of the first half and only carried a one-point lead into halftime, but they improved their field goal percentage from .351 in the first half to .645 in the second and they pulled away for the 12-point win. Sam Dower and Gerard Coleman were the catalysts in the victory with 22 and 21 points, respectively, while Kevin Pangos stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists. On the season, Gonzaga has one of the nation's most potent offensive attacks, as it ranks tied for fifth in scoring (90.4 ppg), while no team boasts better field goal (.549) and 3-point (.476) percentages. Pangos is an elite scorer with 19.8 points per game and he also gets his teammates involved in the action with 4.3 assists per outing. Dower (15.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg) does most of his damage down low. Gary Bell, Jr. (13.8 ppg) has drained greater than 54 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, and Coleman (11.0 ppg) has been effective in only 15.3 minutes per game.
Although the Mountaineers only lost to Missouri by nine points in their latest game, the contest was never really that close, as they fell behind by as many as 25 points midway through the second half. Juwan Staten was impressive in defeat, as he tallied 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Gary Browne and Terry Henderson took advantage of their minutes off the bench with 14 points apiece, and Devin Williams chipped in 10 points and six boards. Their latest disappointing effort aside, WVU has boasted dominating numbers this season. The club shoots greater than 48 percent from the field on its way to a +15.6 scoring margin, while also creating 4.3 more turnovers than it commits. Eron Harris has been on fire from long distance (36-of-51) on his way to 18.9 points per game. Staten (16.3 ppg) sports an outstanding assist (65) to turnover (14) ratio, while Williams (7.8 rpg), Remi Dibo and Henderson all pour in between 9.6 and 10 points per game.