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THIS SEASON: The Red Raiders are 21-10 so far this season. They finished third in the Big 12 during the regular season, and lost to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 conference tournament title game. They beat UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament by the score of 78-66, shooting over 60% for the game.
G – #24 Ronald Ross (6-2, Sr.) = 17.0 PPG, 3.1 APG, 5.3 RPG, 53% FG, 45% 3PT, 77% FT. Ross is an ex-walkon who made the Big 12 all conference team this season. He was absolutely dominant in their 1st round game versus UCLA, scoring 28 points and collecting 7 rebounds. Although an effective 3 point jump shooter, Ross is at his best in Knight's motion offense. He always seems to find the high percentage shot, and when he plays well, Tech generally wins. He's also a physical player and an excellent rebounding guard. Tremendous competitor.
G - #22 Jarius Jackson (6-1, So.) = 15.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.2 RPG, 46% FG, 46% 3PT, 81% FT. Jackson is Tech's best 3 point jump shooter, and like Ross, is highly effective in the motion offense at finding high percentage looks. Jackson is the Red Raiders' best perimeter defender – he had 64 steals this season, which broke the school record. Jackson had 19 points on 8-12 shooting against UCLA.
G - #3 Martin Zeno (6-5, Fr.) = 13.2 PPG, 3.3 APG, 4.2 RPG, 45% FG, 28% 3PT, 77% FT. What a find out of high school for TTU. Zeno was one of the best freshmen in the Big 12 this season, and he performed exceedingly well down the stretch for his team. A big time scorer in high school (he averaged 27 PPG during his senior year), Zeno is tremendously athletic and very tough minded around the hoop. Unlike Ross and Jackson, he is not much of a 3 point threat.
F - #21 Devonne Giles (6-8, Sr.) = 11.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 48% FG, 82% FT. Giles is very good rebounder, and provides nice athleticism in the paint. He was Tech's leading shotblocker this season and its leading rebounder. Although not much of a shooter, Giles can do damage near the glass, and in fact had 16 points on 7-8 shooting against UCLA.
F - #44 Darryl Dora (6-9, So.) = 5.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 47% FG, 74% FT. Dora does much of the "dirty work" underneath for the Red Raiders. He provides defense and a necessary physical presence under the paint on a team that is highly guard oriented.
F - #41 Damir Suljagic (6-8, Fr.) = 3.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 57% FG, 29% FT. Suljagic split time throughout the season with Dora. A native of Yugoslavia, Suljagic provides additional physical presence in the paint.
SG/F - #32 Curtis Marshall (6-5, Sr.) = 7.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 41 FG%, 43% 3PT, 79% FT. Marshall is a solid outside shooter.
SOME KEYS TO THE GAME:
* While Tech shoots the 3 point basket well, Knight's motion offense pretty much shuns the 3 point basket in favor of high percentage 2 point shots. The Zags defense must concern itself with Ross and Jackson's ability to slither their way into the paint for open looks.
* The Zags need to limit Tech's free throw attempts. Not only do the guards shoot well from the charity stripe, but so do their starting bigs.
* GU must take care of the basketball. Tech generates a lot of turnovers (17.6 a game), and many of them are created on the perimeter.
* The Zag bigs must also assert their influence on the glass, where they have enjoyed a +8.4 rebound margin per game this year. Tech has only outrebounded its opponents by 0.2 a game.
* Gonzaga can't rely as heavily on Adam Morrison for offense as they have the last few games. If the Bulldogs start depending too much on Morrison, it could end up being like when GU waited for Dan Dickau to save the day. Balance is key for the Zags.