The Gonzaga Bulldogs are set to face the Memphis Tigers for the second time in two seasons. Last year the Tigers had Gonzaga’s number, winning 60-54.
Last year, both teams seemed quite evenly matched. This year, Gonzaga looks like the dominant team. The game is also in Spokane. It is tough for anyone to come to the McCarthy Athletic Center and get a win.
Jan 15, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Tigers forward Austin Nichols (4) shoots over Cincinnati Bearcats guard Farad Cobb (21) during the game at FedExForum. Memphis Tigers beat Cincinnati Bearcats 63 – 50.Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis is 13-7 this season. They are 6-3 in the American conference. They have only lost twice on the road. One of these losses was to Southern Methodist University, who Gonzaga beat 72-56 back in November. The Tigers are led by sophomore forward, Austin Nichols.
He leads the team in average points per game with 13.3 and rebounds per game at 6.0. Junior forward, Shaq Goodwin averages 7.8 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. Memphis has a very young team as they only have one senior on the roster. They may be lacking in veteran presence, but they are not lacking in confidence. The head coach of Memphis, Josh Pastner is extremely confident. He played for The University of Arizona for four years. Pastner’s confidence rubs off on his team.
For Gonzaga it will be important for them to stick to their game. They have all of the tools to win the game, but they just need to execute.
Keys to the game
1. Smart Shooting
Last year in the loss, the Zags were frustrated by the Memphis 2-3 zone. The forced the Zags to take hurried shots from outside. Gonzaga needs to play patient offense and find good shots. This hasn’t been much of a problem this season.
2. Drive to the Basket
If the Zags drive to the basket they can try to break the Memphis zone (assuming they run their zone again). The Zags can look to attack and get to the foul line.
3. Make Foul Shots
Freethrow shooting has been a weak spot for Gonzaga this year. If they can make a high percentage of their foul shots in this game that would be a huge bonus to their scoring.
One more thing to note: Gonzaga hasn’t lost since Kevin Pangos has started parting his hair down the middle. Coincidence? That’s for you to decide.