West Virginia vs. Gonzaga: WVU basketball heads west to face ranked Bulldogs

Gregory Shamus

The West Virginia Mountaineers open their season against the No. 21 team in the country, facing a Gonzaga Bulldogs team that returns four starters from the squad that dominated West Virginia last year in the NCAA Tournament.

The West Virginia Mountaineers will tip off their new season by looking for revenge against the team that ended their last one when they head west to play the Gonzaga Bulldogs as Monday night turns into Tuesday morning.

The Zags demolished West Virginia 77-54 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, giving the college careers of Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant a sour ending. They return four of five starters, losing only center Robert Sacre, and are ranked No. 21 in the preseason. They had no trouble in their first game Southern Utah by 38 points.

It's a tough test for Bob Huggins' squad to start the season. After failing to win 20 games for the first time ever at West Virginia in the team's last year of Big East play, Huggins told The Daily Mail that he likes opening the season with a difficult game instead of a cupcake opponent. By heading to Spokane, where Gonzaga has been almost unbeatable at home, he's doing just that. Deniz Kilicli, the 6-foot-9 forward who is now West Virginia's leading returning scorer, will have an easier time not having to face off against Sacre, but both Gonzaga's centers managed double digits in the season opener, with Sam Dower scoring 15 and highly-touted Polish freshman Prezemek Karnowski adding 22.

The game is the first of 24 consecutive hours of college basketball as part of ESPN's tip-off marathon. Here's the info on how to watch the game:

Monday, Nov. 12: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. No. 21 Gonzaga Bulldogs 11:59 p.m. ET, ESPN.

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