MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – (December 2, 2020) — As we countdown the hours to No. 11-ranked West Virginia taking on No. 1-ranked Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic, we’ll preview the Bulldogs and what makes them a very dangerous team.
Gonzaga in recent years has started to become a blue blood in college basketball, always being a top team with national championship aspirations.
GU coach Mark Few took over the Bulldogs in 1999 and has made the tournament twenty years in-a-row (until the canceled NCAA Tournament last March). Few has led the Bulldogs to 10-sweet sixteens, four-elite eights, one-final four and a national title appearance in 2017.
This season is being considered as a national title contender for coach Few and the Bulldogs as they were ranked No. 1 in the country since the pre-season polls were released.
WVU coach Bob Huggins commented on Gonzaga and what they’re skilled at.
“They’re good. They are very, very skilled,” Huggins said. “I think that’s been a trait of Gonzaga basketball for a lot of years. They have a lot of skilled guys. They pass it extremely well. They shoot it extremely well. They shoot it as well as anybody we’ve played in a long time.”
Gonzaga has already beat two-great basketball programs last week in Fort Meyers. The Bulldogs defeated Kansas by 12 and Auburn by 23.
The Bulldogs are led by Pre-Season Third-Team All-American Corey Kispert. The senior for Gonzaga has emerged as the go-to scorer for the Bulldogs.
Kispert has a great supporting cast this season which is the main reason why GU is hyped up so much for this season.
Drew Timme is the Bulldogs big man this season after making the WCC All-Freshman Team last season. In the first two games, Timme has 53 points and 16 rebounds.
Coach Few has added contributing pieces to his roster this year in Spokane.
Jalen Suggs is a phenomenal freshman guard who was brought in to become immediate impact. The five-star recruit scored 24 against the Jayhawks last week.
Andrew Nembhard transferred to Gonzaga from Florida during the off-season. The former Gator received eligibility right away to suit up for Gonzaga. Nembhard averaged 11.2 points for Florida last season.
West Virginia will be challenged from every position tonight against the Bulldogs.
Scheduling in 2020 can be very difficult due to the restrictions, but this game was very easy for Huggins.
Gonzaga was originally scheduled to play Tennessee tonight, but the Vols had positive cases within the program.
“We were sitting there watching basketball, and it came across the ticker that Tennessee had an outbreak and canceled,” Huggins said.
“They needed a game, and I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve got some very dear friends at ESPN, so I thought, ‘what the heck? Let’s go play Gonzaga.'”
Incredible. It took Bob Huggins 15 minutes to schedule a game with the best team in the country. Coach Huggins will play anyone, at anytime and anywhere.
Derek Culver has had a great start to the season as he was named the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic MVP of the tournament. Culver averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds in three games thus far.
The Mountaineers were led by Deuce McBride in points. McBride scored 49 points in South Dakota.
WVU will need shooters like Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil to step up like they did last week to give the Mountaineers a spark.
Oscar Tshiebwe didn’t struggle when he was on the court, but he struggled to stay on the floor. In two-out-of-three games, Tshiebwe was in foul trouble early-on and his impact affected WVU at times.
Luckily, Gabe Osabuohien came off the bench and was an amazing “glue guy” for West Virginia. The senior may not have all of the stats, but is very much needed for defensive possessions.
West Virginia will have to play almost perfect tonight, but their defense and toughness always give them a chance in games. It will be a great, early challenge for WVU despite the result of the game.
The Mountaineers and Bulldogs will tip-off at 7 P.M. in Indianapolis for the Jimmy V Classic. Coverage will be on ESPN.