Gonzaga-West Virginia Preview
Gonzaga has regrouped well enough from its first defeat to build some momentum heading into the team's first true road contest.
The No. 20 Bulldogs look for a fifth consecutive victory Tuesday night while trying to hand West Virginia its first home loss.
Gonzaga (8-1) has won each of its previous four games by at least 10 points since an 84-79 loss to Dayton at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25.
The Bulldogs overcame 35.1-percent shooting in the first half for an 80-68 win over New Mexico State on Saturday. Forward Sam Dower scored 22 points for Gonzaga, which shot 64.5 percent after the break.
Gonzaga outscored the Aggies 52-32 in the paint and held a 22-9 advantage in second-chance points while pulling down a season-high 18 offensive rebounds.
"When you have a deep, balanced team, they were able to overcome our game plan with putbacks," said New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies, whose team trailed by one at halftime.
Gonzaga had 35 offensive boards against Coppin State and the Aggies after it had 61 over the first seven contests. It's also held a 90-62 overall advantage on the glass in the last two.
"Guys were aggressive in getting to the rim," Dower said following Saturday's win.
The 6-foot-9 Dower has averaged 17.8 points in the last five games. Working mostly in the paint during the second half Saturday, Dower went 7 of 9 from the field in the final 20 minutes.
West Virginia (6-3) enters the week tied for 172nd in the nation with an average of 11.2 offensive boards allowed. The Mountaineers held an 18-13 edge in second-chance points at Missouri on Thursday, but allowed the Tigers to shoot 52.9 percent in an 80-71 loss.
The Mountaineers trailed by as many as 25 but shot 52.8 percent in the second half to remain competitive.
"I think that when it gets tough, we are able to come back but we can't spend every season trying to come back every single game," sophomore guard Terry Henderson said.
"Now our biggest thing is our preparation and we have to do a better job at preparing. That's more important than the game itself. That is something that we are about to focus more on than anything."
Though West Virginia has averaged 91.6 points and shot 52.2 percent while going 5-0 at home, those victories came against Mount St. Mary's, Duquesne, Georgia Southern, Presbyterian and Loyola, Maryland. In losses to Virginia Tech, then-No. 10 Wisconsin and Missouri, the Mountaineers have averaged 72.0 points and shot 39.7 percent.
Guard Eron Harris averages a team-leading 18.9 points but foul trouble limited him to a season-low eight over 19 minutes against the Tigers.
West Virginia shot 29.8 percent, including 6 of 43 from 3-point range, while falling each of the last two seasons to Gonzaga by a combined 57 points. The Bulldogs shot 54.0 percent from the field and 18 of 33 from beyond the arc in those matchups.
Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. combined for 28 points and went 5 of 9 from long range during Gonzaga's 84-50 home win over West Virginia last season.
The Mountaineers have dropped 13 straight games against ranked opponents since a 74-62 win over then-No. 9 Georgetown on Jan. 7, 2012.
Gonzaga, meanwhile, has won five straight and 11 of its last 12 true road contests.