MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The envious tone from Eron Harris was readily audible, rising above the echoes of the bouncing basketballs on the Coliseum floor.

West Virginia’s leading scorer offered a succinct but glowing scouting report on No. 20 Gonzaga, a team that has plastered WVU by a combined 57 points the past two seasons and now comes to Morgantown for a Tuesday night game.

“Their whole team competes,” said Harris, comparing the Bulldogs’ nonstop effort and chemistry to programs like Kentucky and Duke. “We need to get to that level where we go hard every possession.”

He was particularly complimentary of the steady productivity shown by guards Kevin Pangos (19.8 points per game) and Gary Bell (13.5 points), two juniors Harris figures to match up against when tonight’s game tips at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.

“I see two basketball players with a good head,” Harris said. “They’re confident. They’re not big, they’re not super-fast or athletic—but they’re comfortable as players.”

Gonzaga (8-1) suffered its lone loss to Dayton 84-79 by blowing a double-digit lead at the Maui Invitational. In that same event, however, the Bulldogs beat Arkansas 91-81. Their other seven wins have come by an average margin of nearly 24 points.

Harris was a nonfactor in West Virginia’s 84-50 loss at Gonzaga last year, playing seven minutes in garbage time and attempting only one shot. That night in Spokane, Wash., he was a far cry from the freshman who closed the season as the Mountaineers’ go-to scoring option, so Harris feels like this is essentially his first shot against the Bulldogs.

“We can shock the nation,” he said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do in front of a packed crowd, hopefully we’ll have that for the rest of the year.”

But will there be a packed arena? Through five home games West Virginia is averaging only 5,789 attendance—about 41 percent capacity of the WVU Coliseum. A series of lesser-known opponents could bear partial blame, yet on the heels of the two smallest crowds of Huggins’ seven-year tenure, and with some students bolting early for Christmas break, there are questions of whether a ranked opponent like Gonzaga can generate a sizable turnout.

“I need it for my psyche,” joked coach Bob Huggins. “I’m tired of walking in there and seeing so many empty seats.”

On Monday night former West Virginia star forward Kevin Jones and ex-Mountaineers tight end Anthony Becht used Twitter to encourage a big crowd. The school is offering tickets at a discounted price of $10.

“When our students are into it, this is a great place,” said Huggins. “Over the years, West Virginia has played great in this arena, to a large degree because of the fan base. And when you don’t have that, you lose a little (energy).

“The people who have tickets that don’t use them—if they’d just give them to somebody, so we’d have people in here, that would help considerably. As they say, we’ve had too many people disguised as empty seats.”

SCOUTING GONZAGA
Tipoff: 9 p.m. in Morgantown. (ESPN2)
Records: The Bulldogs (8-1) have three starters back from last season’s 32-3 squad that earned an NCAA No. 1 seed only to lose in the round of 32. WVU is 6-3 overall but 5-0 at home.
RPIs: Gonzaga is No. 18 and WVU is No. 78.
Coach: Mark Few has gone 14-for-14 in NCAA berths since taking over the program as a first-time head coach in 1999. At 52 years old, he has declined big-dollar overtures from other national programs, choosing instead to embrace the quiet life in Spokane.
Top players: Along with Pangos and Bell (both of whom are shooting 50 percent or better from 3-point range), there’s John Stockton’s son David, a senior point guard. And don’t forget the Zags boast a dangerous sixth man in Providence transfer Gerard Coleman, who scored 30 points in an 87-84 overtime loss to WVU in February 2012. … Przemek Karnowski is a 7-foot-1 Polish import who needs to improve on his mobility and 46-percent foul shooting. Neither of those is a problem for 6-9 left-handed senior Sam Dower, who shoots 84 percent at the line and averages 15.3 points.
WVU roster notes: Eron Harris (18.8 ppg) continues to top WVU in scoring but he produced more fouls (four) than baskets (three) in an 80-71 loss at Missouri last Thursday. The sophomore played a season-low 19 minutes and found himself benched for a stretch of the second half after quick-shooting a 3 against heavy defense. “I really want to put that game behind me and forget all about it,” he said. … Devin Williams has four double-digit rebounding games this season and might need his fifth if WVU is to stands a chance. … With Harris, Remi Dibo and Gray Browne all making 46 percent or better from 3, perhaps it’s time for the team’s best pure shooter, Terry Henderson, to catch fire and improve on his 34-percent long-range accuracy
Line: Gonzaga favored by 2.
Prediction: Gonzaga 83-78
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Comments

  • pghmountaineer

    Another "moral" victory tonight. Unfortunately, we'll see a lot of those this year. The talent level just is not there.

  • pghmountaineer

    I'm pulling for these guys to win, as I always do. But when you see comments that insuate we're begging people to come to the game, that's a program in trouble. I hate to see it, but it's true.
    Until Huggs can prove that his team is not a "bottom feeder" , I'm afraid the sparse crowds are going to continue. Unfortunately, he has nobody to blame but himself for this.

  • bklynbig50

    for two years I have heard everyone bash, big Larry why comment on ignorance Forrest Gump said it best stupid is, is what stupid does? I guarantee Big Larry has never played football or any sport on any level. We know WVU coach sucks in football, they will be ok, just watch. The basketball ball team and hugs will be okay too.

  • cutty77

    Crowd will be about 8 to 10 thou. Look who has beat WVU,all are pretty good Teams. TV has killed College Football and Basketball,and it ain't changing either. Plus the average fan won't and can't go to all the games. Huggy get use to it. Save The Drama.

  • 5toldU1s

    I hope the playerz don't have the same attitudz as some of the unthinking fanz- that this is a make or break game. I'm just afraid they will throw in the towel and not play hard vs. Herd and Purdue. Becauz I don't think we're ready to beat the Zags no matter where itz played, but I think we should beat a weak Marshall squad and in my opinion Purdue is beatable at the Col. But not if they've given up before the games even start! Go Mountaineerz!!!!! (Sorry about the Zees but we are playing the Zags after all!) I know. Sorry again...

  • mark

    Note to students: Please show up and support your university, your classmates, your team. Surely, you can take a 2 hr break from all that studying.

  • scott

    Big Larry should be expecting a nomination for a Nobel Prize soon. For all he's done for WVU athletics.

    • hailey

      He would settle for a good night kiss from William... shoot he allready gets that

  • Neil

    I will go to any game, if someone wants to pass on some tickets. Sorry, Mountaineers Fans! Funds are short! The drive over and back, tickets are not cheap.

  • Kevin F.

    Big Larry-

    I think we do care about his psyche, to a point for sure. If he's down in the dumps and not energetic then his team will reflect that. We have already won half as many games as we did last year so it's obvious we have improved. Not sure why the fans can't come out and support them...........the players AND the coaches. You obviously know nothing about sports and just live to ridicule Huggs, Holgs & Luck. Grow up man........

    • Big Larry

      Kevin F,

      No...The real fan doesn't care about Huggin's psyche...They only care about winning...

      Huggins, Luck, and Holgorsen say:

      "Show Me The Money"

      The fans are saying:

      "Show me the Wins"

      And that is the reason they have stopped buying tickets...and that is no reflection on the players who we love...but rather it is a reflection upon the administration and the coaches...

      WAKE UP AMERICA!

  • Big Larry

    “I need it for my psyche,” joked coach Bob Huggins. “I’m tired of walking in there and seeing so many empty seats.”

    Hello??? Nobody cares about your psyche.

    Start producing a basketball team that is capable of winning more than 13 games a season and the fans might return...

    NOTE: This comment qualifies to be added to the file...

    "1001 of the Most Stupid Comments, Remarks and Statements Made by Bob Huggins".

    • Andy

      He has, except last season you pea brain.

    • 4WVUinKY

      The ranting of someone with a total lack of character.

  • Big Larry

    ♪ ♫♪ ♫♪ ♫
    Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'
    Plannin' and dreaming each night after night
    That won't help you win this fight….

    So if you're lookin' to find a win tonight against the Zags…
    All you gotta do is
    Shoot it and make it, and Shoot it
    And show them that you can…♪ ♫♪ ♫♪ ♫

    • Bruce Springfield

      Mr Taylor,ya'll delete my a-plus humor but you allow this ? I see a double standard here.

    • hailey

      William says so and really likes it!

    • Hesa Duffus

      No your thinking of William, I mean, Richard, I mean Big Tom

      Oh, that's right they are all the same stooge who loves to answer his own posts

      What a no life knob Big Larry truey is typing away in his moms basement in Huntington hoping she doesn't catch him smoking again

  • chad

    Want to fill seats?? Stop whinning and start winning ball games against quality opponents.

  • Truthteller

    Nope!!! Ranked team. Go a head and write the loss down. WVU gets scared when they play a ranked team. They freeze up and can't hit the side of a barn with a ball. This will be another embarrassing blowout loss. These team needs to learn some mental toughness. They also need to play at the same level no matter who they are playing against. Once they learn that, then they will be successful.

    • hailey

      Hope you are wrong, but can't disagree over the past 2 + yrs your analysis is correct

  • Steve

    Let's go mountaineers!