Wednesday, West Virginia basketball played its first game in nearly eight months, defeating South Dakota State 79-71 in the first round of the Crossover Classic.
That game started at 7 p.m. EST, but earlier in the day the No. 15 Mountaineers made headlines by announcing they had scheduled a game against No. 1 Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic. The Dec. 2 doubleheader was originally scheduled to feature Gonzaga vs No. 12 Tennessee and No. 2 Baylor vs No. 8 Illinois, but the Volunteers were forced to withdraw from the event due to positive COVID-19 tests.
After defeating SDSU, WVU coach Bob Huggins explained how he was able to get the Mountaineers into the event to play the top team in the country.
“We were sitting in the room last night and it came across the ticker that Tennessee couldn’t play because of the COVID-19 and so I thought ‘what the heck, let’s call ESPN’,” Huggins said. “So I called some guys that I’ve known for a long, long time and said ‘hey man, can you work this out, get us in the Jimmy V and play Gonzaga?’ He said ‘let me call you back’. In 10-5 minutes, he called me back and said, ‘we got it done, you’re in’. So it happened pretty quick.”
The Mountaineers and Zags will play at 7 p.m. EST on Dec 2 in the Jimmy V Classic held in Indianapolis. It will be a rematch of the 2017 Sweet 16 when Gonzaga defeated WVU 61-58.