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Gonzaga vs. South Dakota: Last game of the non-conference

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One more game and then it is on to WCC play.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga vs Tennessee Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

One more game, and then the Gonzaga Bulldogs take a short break before heading into West Coast Conference play. All that stands in the way of a nice holiday slumber are the South Dakota Coyotes out of the Summit League, on Wednesday evening.

South Dakota is coming off a nice bounce-back win over Montana State on the road. Last Friday, the Coyotes fell to the Portland Pilots on a last second three pointer by Gabe Taylor.

The Zags had another one of those games against Tennessee on Sunday, but they held on to take home a nice almost-road win. With a win tomorrow, the Zags will have equaled the best program start in history: 12-0 all the way back in 1944.

Meet the opponent

South Dakota Coyotes, 9-5, KenPom #193

The Coyotes are led by the backcourt duo of Matt Mooney and Tyler Flack, averaging 14.7 points and 13.3 points, respectively. Trey Dickerson chips in an additional 10 points per game, and right there you are looking at the majority of the South Dakota offense. These three players all do so at a semi-efficient rate, however, as each sports an ORtg of over 100.

South Dakota have tough-nosed and aggressive guards, but unfortunately for the Coyotes, those guards can’t hit an outside shot to save their lives. The Coyotes as a team shoot just 31.7 percent from beyond the arc, good for No. 292 in the nation. Mooney is a major part of this problem, hucking up over five attempts per game but only hitting around 30 percent of those outside shots. Move him inside the three point line, and its a totally different story. Same with Flack, and same with Dickerson.

What to watch out for

Nigel Williams-Goss is just getting started.

Williams-Goss had perhaps the best game of his Gonzaga career on Sunday. He finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals, and just two turnovers. Often times, ESPN announcers will say the Zags don’t necessarily have a go-to scorer as a backhanded way of saying Gonzaga is a loaded team with a lot of options. Lately, that go-to scorer has emerged, and it is Williams-Goss. After averaging 11.8 points per game in the first five games of the season, NWG nearly 1 per game over the last six—including two 20 point efforts in his past three games.

This offense was always going to be Williams-Goss to run, it just took some time for everything to get settled into place.

Time for the freshmen to step back up

Zach Collins and Killian Tillie made such an enthusiastic burst onto the scene this year it was easy to forget that they both stepped foot on Gonzaga’s campus for the first time as students this fall. Although Tillie put together a nice effort against Tennessee, both players have struggled to make a positive impact on the offensive end since the Arizona game.

This is to be expected. Freshmen will be freshmen after all, and neither player has looked completely lost out there by any means. But both Tillie and Collins are a massive part of Gonzaga’s depth, and they forced the issue for more minutes early on in the season. Now it is on them to justify those minutes. Collins, especially, has struggled with turnovers, averaging 3.5 turnovers in just 16.5 minutes of play over his last four games. Numbers like that will quickly find you on the fast track to the patented Mark Few doghouse. Collins is too big a piece of the puzzle to find himself there, so he will need to do some rapid growing as WCC approaches.