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THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: College Basketball is Back!

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Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup.

Kentucky v West Virginia Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions.

BASKETBALL IS BACK

College basketball is back, and West Virginia will be starting its season tonight against Oakland in Morgantown. Bob Huggins is starting his 40th season as a coach and his 15th at his alma mater. Huggins earned his 900th career win last season against Morehead State during the NCAA Tournament, so tonight will also mark the celebration of that accomplishment since this is the team’s first regular season home game since that win.

While tonight will involve some celebrating of WVU’s legendary coach, it is also the first regular season home game in the WVU Coliseum for seven Mountaineers. Transfers Malik Curry, Dimon Carrigan, and Pauly Paulicap are preparing to start their fifth-year senior seasons for WVU. Two of the other Mountaineer newcomers, freshmen Kobe Johnson and Jamel King, saw playing time in the team’s exhibition win over Akron, so they may play on the Coliseum court for the first time too.

WVU will likely rely on guards Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil this season. Huggins has made it clear this preseason that the Mountaineers should have no trouble scoring, and their questions are more defensive related, so Sherman and McNeil should definitely contribute to that expected scoring ability. Tonight’s season opener against Oakland will tip off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

SNUBBED

The West Virginia women’s soccer program had a 21-year streak of making the NCAA Tournament, but that trend came to an end this week as the Mountaineers missed the tournament for the first time since 1999. WVU lost to #20 Texas in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament last week, after the two teams went into a penalty shootout following two overtime periods. The Longhorns went on to lose to #9 TCU in the Conference Championship. The Mountaineers finished the year with a 10-5-5 record, which continues Nikki Izzo-Brown’s streak of never having a losing season as a head coach.

WEST VIRGINIA ROUNDUP

  • The West Virginia wrestling team finished in second place at the Clarion Open this past weekend. WVU finished behind Navy in points at the tournament and finished ahead of Pitt and Clarion. Sophomore Peyton Hall was the Mountaineers’ lone individual champion at the event in the 165-pound weight class. Junior Scott Joll took third place in the 174-pound division and freshman Garett Lautzenheiser also finished in third at 133 pounds.
  • The #3 West Virginia rifle team defeated #4 TCU, 4724-4723, on Saturday to continue its undefeated season. The biggest headline from the match was sophomore Molly McGhin tying a school record by shooting a 600 in air rifle. McGhin is the sixth Mountaineer to shoot 600 in air rifle and the accomplishment also earned her the honor of being the WVU Student-Athlete Athlete of the Week.

AROUND THE BIG 12

  • A Big 12 team will be in the national spotlight tonight, as the college basketball season begins. #3 Kansas will be playing Michigan State at the Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The game will start at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • Along with West Virginia’s matchup with Oakland, three additional Big 12 teams will have their season openers streamed on ESPN+ tonight. Oklahoma State will be hosting UT Arlington, Texas Tech is facing North Florida, and Iowa State will be playing Kennesaw State. All three of those game will tip off at 8:00 p.m. ET.

AROUND THE NCAA

  • The biggest matchup of the opening night of college basketball is #9 Duke facing #10 Kentucky at the Champions Classic. The Blue Devils, who had a weak 13-11 record last year, are hoping to make the best of head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season. The Wildcats also struggled last season, going 9-16. This game will tip off at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • #1 Gonzaga is the current favorite to win the national championship in college basketball this year. The Bulldogs are bringing back stars such as forward Drew Timme, but fans are eager to see their top recruit Chet Holmgren, who is 7’1 freshman with an unbelievable skillset. GU opens its season against Dixie State tonight.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been cleared to play after recovering from finger surgery. The return of Wilson will push former WVU quarterback Geno Smith back into the backup spot, after Smith has been starting in Wilson’s place during his injury.
  • Four straight wins have the Philadelphia 76ers at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Golden State Warriors also went on a winning streak to stand out in the West. Who else is off to a good start this NBA season?
  • No Derrick Henry, no problem. The Tennessee Titans had no problems, despite having their star running back Derrick Henry out due to injury, as they went on the road and defeated the Los Angeles Rams 28-16.

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