Let's ignore the fact that for the Gonzaga Bulldogs' marquee event of the non-conference season they have basically scheduled a turd and enjoy the game. Two teams are required for games to come together, and I'm just going to assume that there was something better in the mix than the South Alabama Jaguars.
Speaking of marquee events, the Bulldogs picked up their best win of the season in a come-from-behind victory on the road against the West Virginia Mountaineers. It was a game featuring two of the better shooting teams in the nation, and although Kevin Pangos was the big hero of the game, Przemek Karnowski was the real winner. The sophomore center had one of the best games of his career when he was needed most, scoring a season-high 19 points and grabbing 13 boards. Most impressively, he stayed on the court for 32 minutes when Sam Dower was limited with foul trouble.
Regardless, as the one game on the west side of the state, the Battle in Seattle is always a fun event, and this year shouldn't be any different. The Jaguars are also a team the Bulldogs shouldn't have any troubles handling.
Meet the opponent
South Alabama (5-4), Kenpom 157, RPI 179
The Jaguars offense runs through the two seniors on the team. Forward Augustine Rubit and guard Antoine Allen combine for roughly one-third of the total points per game. Rubit, especially, is a machine, and has been one of the most consistent players out there all season. He has scored in double figures in eight-straight games and notched a double-double in four of those. He leads the team with 16.7 points and 10 rebounds a game -- stats quite impressive considering his lack of height. He stands at 6'7, pretty much the tallest player seeing meaningful minutes for the Jaguars.
Allen lives and dies by the three, throwing up around five per game. When he needs to in games, as shown recently in a loss against Rice, Allen has no problem taking over. He attempted 12 three-pointers in the game en route to 26 points. Allen is someone that the Bulldogs will need to make sure they keep a man on at all times -- if left open beyond the arc, he will shoot the ball immediately. On the season, he has attempted 47 threes and only 28 two-point shots.
What to watch out for
The Bulldogs would be smart to go inside immediately, and as often as possible. The size advantage Karnowski holds over Rubit is something that needs to be exploited, and it is one that teams have exploited plenty throughout the Jaguars' season. The Jaguars haven't held a scoring advantage inside the paint against any of the D-I schools this season. Between Karnowski and Dower, the Bulldogs have a significant advantage.
Despite the lack of height, however, the Jaguars are one of the nation's better rebounding teams. They average 41.6 rebounds a game, which is good for 21st in the nation, and they generally hit that mark while outrebounding their opponents. Where the Bulldogs might, and probably will, get burned is on the offensive glass. South Alabama plays with the hunger and energy that smaller teams need to in order to survive against the bigger opposition. The Jaguars average 13.8 offensive rebounds per game, good for 69th in the nation. A lot of this comes from Rubit created his own chances down low -- the forward averages 4.5 offensive rebounds a game.
The Zags are riding high after the West Virginia win, and there is no reason to think that Saturday will be an exercise in falling back down to Earth. South Alabama has the pieces to try and keep it a close game, but in front of the larger home court this time around, the Zags should be fine.
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