WHEN: Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Tipoff is at 10 p.m CT.
WHERE: McCarthey Athletic Center Spokane, Washington
TV/RADIO: ESPN 2/SMU-KAAM 770AM
SERIES: First game between the two teams (Gonzaga will come to Moody Coliseum next season).
PONY TRENDS: Nic Moore had just six points, but the Mustangs’ balanced attack saw Cannen Cunningham, Keith Frazier, Yanick Moreira and Ben Moore all score double digits and SMU shot a remarkable 61 percent from the field. SMU did exactly what they need to do against Lamar: start the season off on the right foot by getting significant contributions from their sophomores. Despite not having junior forward Markus Kennedy, the Mustangs dominated Lamar in what was a nice tune up game in preparation for Monday night’s game.
OPPONENT STRENGTHS: Just like the Mustangs, Gonzaga has tremendous depth led by senior guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. Pangos and Bell give the Bulldogs veteran leadership in the backcourt to go along with their incredibly skilled big men Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis. Gonzaga is one of the more complete teams in the nation because they have a balanced offensive attack and can swarm you with their defense. The Bulldogs three big men can all score the ball and Wiltjer is someone to keep an eye because of his ability to shoot from outside.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kyle Wiltjer vs. Ben Moore. Wiltjer and Moore both led their prospective teams in scoring on Friday, and the two will likely match up against each other Monday night. At 6-foot-10, 240-pounds, Wiltjer can shoot lights out (Watch this video to see just how lights out he is) and can post you up on the block. Wiltjer is usually a match up nightmare, but Ben Moore has the length and athletic ability to make it tough on the junior Bulldog. Wiltjer has some weight on Moore, but I can guarantee Wiltjer has never played against someone as tall, quick and athletic as Moore. The key for Moore will be to not let Wiltjer have any open shots. If the Bulldog can get into a rhythm, he’ll be hard to stop.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Mustangs will have their hands full when they take the court against the Bulldogs Monday Night. SMU needs to come out fired up and ready to play an aggressive style of basketball. Gonzaga rebounds well, so preventing the Bulldogs from getting second chance points will be key. The Mustangs will also need to focus on not getting too emotional and keeping their calm, because there’s no doubt that McCarthey Athletic Center will be rocking. If SMU can stick to playing their game and continue to have the type of paint presence they did against Lamar, the Mustangs will have a shot to pull the upset. The Mustangs struggled some to defend the three-point shot against Lamar, so we’ll have to see an improvement there if the Mustangs want to win.