The West Virginia Mountaineers opened their season early Tuesday morning against the team that crushed them in last year's NCAA Tournament, and lost by an even more lopsided margin of victory, falling 84-50 in an embarrassing rout at the hands of the No. 19 Gonzaga Bulldogs.
West Virginia struggled from the get-go, missing nine of their first ten shots, and had more turnovers than points for a good portion of the first half. While Gonzaga also struggled early - they started 4-for-15 - they were quickly up 15-2, and ended the first half up a whopping 28 points, 45-17. The Mountaineers picked up the pace a little bit in the second half, but still lost by a whopping 34 points.
Some of the team's struggles came from integrating three transfers into a team that loses its top two scorers from last year - they finished with 18 turnovers - but the main culprit was extremely subpar shooting. The Mountaineers shot 29 percent from the field, going 3-for-26 from three. LaSalle transfer Aaric Murray was the only West Virginia scorer in double digits, with 14 points. Gary Bell Jr. had 15 points for Gonzaga to lead all scorers.
Bob Huggins' squad has some excuses, as the team's first game of the year was played in front of a hostile crowd in The Kennel in Spokane at midnight Eastern time, but that probably won't justify the performance. The Bulldogs won last year's first round NCAA Tournament game 77-54.