MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia and Gonzaga have met in each of the last two seasons, at the end of one and the beginning of the next. The games were not even competitive, the Zags winning both in runaways.
When they meet tonight for the third straight season, are the Mountaineers in a better position to change that?
"Probably,'' Bob Huggins said Monday.
Naturally, the venue should help. At the end of the 2011-12 season, the teams met in Pittsburgh in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. Gonzaga won 77-54 at Consol Energy Center. A few months later, WVU opened the 2012-13 season in Spokane, Wash., and the Zags won 84-50 on their home floor.
Tonight they play at the Coliseum. The 9 p.m. game will be televised by ESPN2.
When Huggins looks at the team he will send onto the floor tonight against the No. 20 Zags (8-1), he sees one that he hopes is better equipped to handle whatever Gonzaga throws at it. In each of the first two games between the teams, WVU was so one-dimensional that when the Zags took away what the Mountaineers did best, there were no other real options.
"What they did to us in Pittsburgh was they did a great job of taking the things that we really relied on with [Kevin Jones], they did a great job of taking that away,'' Huggins said. "And then when other guys don't make shots, it makes it awfully hard.
"I think we have more people that can make shots now than what we've had.''
Indeed, in that NCAA tournament game two seasons ago, Gonzaga limited Jones to 13 points and four rebounds, and in trying to compensate West Virginia was 3 of 17 on 3-pointers and shot just 32 percent overall.