No. 22 Washington vs. No. 9 Gonzaga
Time: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Alaska Airlines Arena
TV: ESPN2 (Roxy Bernstein and Bill Walton)
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM & 97.7 FM (Tony Castricone and Jason Hamilton)
Records: UW (7-1); GU (8-1)
Projected starting lineups:
Player … Ht. … Yr. … PPG … RPG … APG
G Ryan Woolridge … 6-3 … Sr. … 9.3 … 4.8 … 4.1
G Joel Ayayi … 6-5 … So. … 9.9 … .8 … 3.8
F Corey Kispert … 6-7 … Jr. … 13.6 … 4.0 … 2.0
F Killian Tillie … 6-10 … Sr. … 13.4 … 5.0 … 1.4
F Filip Petrusev … 6-11 … So. … 15.7 … 8.4 … 1.3 (blocks)
Player … Ht … Yr … PPG … RPG … APG
G Quade Green … 6-0 … So. … 9.0 …. 3.3 … 4.9
G Nahziah Carter … 6-6 … Jr. … 14.6 … 6.6 … 1.8 (steals)
G Jamal Bey … 6-6 … So. … 5.9 …. 2.3 … 1.6 (steals)
F Jaden McDaniels … 6-9 … Fr. … 15.0 …. 5.0 … 2.4
F Isaiah Stewart … 6-9 … Fr. … 16.5 … 7.6 … 2.0 (blocks)
Coach: Mark Few has compiled a 577-123 record during his 21 years with the Bulldogs. Gonzaga has played in the NCAA tournament every year under Few, including an appearance in the NCAA tournament national title game and Final Four in 2017. During his tenure, the Zags have made three trips to the Elite Eight and nine appearances in the Sweet 16. Gonzaga has won or shared 18 regular season league WCC titles and claimed 15 conference tournament titles. Prior to taking over in 1999, Few served as an assistant at GU for 10 years.
Preseason prediction: Gonzaga is the preseason favorite to win its eighth straight WCC regular-season title. The Bulldogs received seven out of a possible nine first-place votes from the conference’s 10 head coaches. GU finished with 79 points to edge Saint Mary’s (75) in the coaches’ poll.
Series: Washington holds a 29-18 edge in a series that began in 1910. The Huskies won 28 of the first 34 meetings before Gonzaga took control in 1998. The Bulldogs have prevailed in 12 of the past 13 matchups, which includes a five-game winning streak.
Last meeting: Rui Hachimura buried a mid-range jumper with 0.6 seconds left to give No. 1 Gonzaga an 81-79 win over Washington at McCarthey Athletic Center on Dec. 5, 2018. The Huskies trailed 79-71 with 2:01 left and used an 8-0 run to tie the score with 9.4 seconds remaining.
Previous game: Gonzaga bounced back from its only defeat – an 82-64 defeat to Michigan in the Bahamas – with a 101-62 romp over Texas Southern on Wednesday. The Bulldogs had seven players score in double figures. It was the 28th straight win for the Zags at McCarthey Athletic Center.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Senior forward Killian Tillie, the 2018 WCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, garnered preseason All-WCC honors. The talented Frenchman put his name in the NBA draft following an injury-riddled junior season in which he played just 15 games. However, he sprained his ankle in his first workout and had little choice but to return to school. He also underwent minor surgery on his knee in October and missed the first five games this season. Tillie has scored at least 12 points in all but one game, including a 20-point outing against Michigan. He’s a prolific perimeter shooter who shot 47.9 percent (45 of 94) on three-pointers as a sophomore. This season, Tillie is 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) behind the arc.
— Sophomore forward Filip Petrusev just might be the Bulldogs’ next great big man. The 6-foot-11 Serbian has made significant strides since last season when he averaged 6.5, 2.7 rebounds and 11.4 minutes as a reserve. With Tillie sidelined early, Petrusev emerged as GU’s go-to player who operates primarily in the post and shoots 53.2 percent from the floor while averaging 15.7 points. He’s one of of 46 players named to the Oscar Robertson watch list, which recognizes the top player in the country.
— Junior forward Corey Kispert is the only returning starter who averaged 8.0 points and 4.1 rebounds last season. The Edmonds, Wash. native is a volume shooter who is deadly behind the arc where he’s shooting 43.1 percent (25 of 58). He’s scored 28 points in two games this season and three times tallied at least five 3-pointers. Kispert has also been plagued by off-shooting performances, including games against Michigan, Cal State Bakersfield, UT Arlington and Texas A&M when he converted just 4 of 28 shots while scoring fewer than six points.
— Last season, Gonzaga advanced to the Elite Eight and finished 33-4, which was the third most wins in school history. The Bulldogs lost four starters (Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins) from arguably the most talented team Few has ever coached.
— Most college basketball observers predicted Gonzaga’s four new starters would need time to gel, but the Bulldogs began the season with seven straight wins, including a gritty 73-72 overtime victory over Oregon in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
— The Zags begin their the toughest stretch of their schedule – at No. 22 Washington on Sunday, at No. 12 Arizona on Dec. 14 and home against No. 7 North Carolina on Dec. 18 – that may ultimately decide their seeding in the NCAA tournament.
— Several GU players are dealing with nagging injuries, including Tillie (knee), senior guard Ryan Woolridge (leg), senior guard Admon Gilder (knee) and freshman forward Anton Watson (ankle), who has missed the past three games and isn’t expected to play Sunday.
— Gilder, who is averaging 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, came off the bench for the first time this season on Wednesday. The graduate transfer from Texas A&M started the past two seasons while averaging 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals.
— Woolbridge is another grad transfer who is making an immediate impact. The 6-3 senior guard is second on the team in minutes (29.2 per game) and first with a 58.8 three-point shooting percentage (10 of 17). The Dallas native is a veteran playmaker who tallied over 1,000 points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 150 steals at North Texas.
— Sophomore guard Joel Ayayi took advantage of his first start and finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists during Wednesday’s 101-62 win over Texas Southern. The 6-5 French native is averaging 9.9 points while shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 42.1 percent on 3-pointers.
— Gonzaga ranks fifth nationally with an 86.2 scoring average. Seven Zags average at least nine points. Last season GU led all NCAA teams with an 88.8 scoring average.
— The Bulldogs, which allow 63.9 points per game, are fifth in the country in scoring margin (22 points).