Gonzaga Basketball takes on one of the best teams in the country in the UConn Huskies. What do the Bulldogs need to do to win?
After suffering a road loss to Washington last weekend, Gonzaga Basketball got back to its winning ways, beating Mississippi Valley State, 78-40. Braden Huff led all scorers with 17 pts off the bench. He and the rest of the team will have a much tougher test on Friday, taking on the No. 5 UConn Huskies.
Here are some keys for Gonzaga to pull off the upset bid.
1. Slow down Tristen Newton
The Bulldogs have faced some good guards so far this season, including the likes of Boogie Ellis and Judah Mintz. But the guards' biggest test to date will be Tristen Newton, who leads UConn with 17.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 6.1 apg. The triple-double threat has one already this season against Manhattan, along with a 31-pt effort against Kansas.
While sharpshooter Cam Spencer represents another problem for Gonzaga on the perimeter, limiting the impact of Newton is of the upmost important. Both Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard will need to defend him without getting in foul trouble, which will be tougher said than done.
2. Get something from Dusty Stromer
With Steele Venters out for the season, there's a lot of pressure on the freshman Stromer to have an impact as the third guard. And he's certainly had his moments, including 15 pts against USC. But he also has his off nights, going scoreless in 28 minutes in the loss to Washington.
Gonzaga just simply doesn't have enough scoring depth to afford one of its starters going scoreless against a good team like UConn. He's also going to have to defend well without getting in foul trouble since Coach Mark Few likely won't go to one of the other freshmen in this kind of matchup.
3. Big game from Anton Watson on both ends
The guards are going to have their hands full against the Huskies, while Graham Ike has to deal with Donovan Clingan, one of the better interior defenders in the country. That one matchup where Gonzaga could have the advantage is at the four-spot. Anton Watson (13.9 ppg and 8.2 rpg) carried the team to a win over UCLA with a career-high 32 pts.
Guarding him is Alex Karaban, a good player in his own right but could be got defensively. It's the best chance for Gonzaga Basketball to find a way to break through in a tough matchup. If Watson can go for 20+ points and the other matchups are in a stalemate, they'll have a shot at winning.