If you only watch one game featuring a WCC team this season, this is the one to watch. This is one of the biggest games that Gonzaga and the whole West Coast Conference has seen and will see in some time. Brace yourself, because this is going to be a crazy game!
These two western basketball powerhouses look to square off for the first time since the NCAA tournament last year. In that game the Wildcats embarrassed the Zags, beating them 84-61 in the 3rd round. I was at the game and it wasn’t pretty. The Wildcats wanted to destroy the Zags and they were successful. That Arizona team had drive that was very apparent. Last year they made it to the Elite 8, but lost to Wisconsin by one point in overtime.
Things have changed since last season. Gonzaga lost players such as David Stockton and Sam Dower Jr., but have added so much talent. Against Arizona I will be looking for players who are new to this year’s team to make a huge impact. I expect Gonzaga’s two top scores, Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, to be difference makers. Having Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. healthy has made a huge difference for the Zags this season. They will continue to be an integral part of Gonzaga’s game.
This year Arizona is without star player, Aaron Gordon, who is currently playing for the Orlando Magic. He made a huge difference in last year’s tournament game. This year’s Wildcats are in scoring by freshman forward, Stanley Johnson. He averages 14.1 points per game with 6.4 rebounds per game to go along with that. Sophomore forward, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is not far behind Johnson as he averages 13.4 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. The Wildcats also get great guard play from senior guard, T.J. McConnell who averages 6.4 assists per game.
The player who I think poses a huge threat to Gonzaga is junior center, Kaleb Tarczewski. The 7′ 0″ center is a nightmare in the paint on offense and defense. The match up between him and Przemek Karnowski will be an exciting one. I am also interested in seeing how Domantas Sabonis responds to playing against a player of Tarczewski’s size and caliber.
On November 26 Arizona only beat San Diego State 61-59. I know that a win is a win, but to see a team like San Diego State take Arizona down to the wire is encouraging for Zag fans.
The Zags continue to play well and are currently 54.5% from the field as a team. This is third best in the nation. Gonzaga is also sharing the ball very well and are second in the nation in assists per game with an average of 19.9. We’ll see if Arizona slows down the high-powered Gonzaga offense.
This game is going to be awesome and I expect it to be close! The game starts at 2:15 p.m. PT and is on ESPN.