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Gonzaga vs. San Francisco game preview: Let the good times roll

The Dons played the Zags close last time.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at San Francisco John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the San Francisco Dons on Saturday in the second game of the series.

Gonzaga is coming off of a tidy win over Portland on Thursday, led by Killian Tillie’s 27 points and Corey Kispert’s 23 points. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the game is that it wasn’t a sell out. Apparently, most Portland Zag fans got their fix during the PK80 Invitational this year.

San Francisco is riding a two-game win streak, narrowly beating the upstart Pacific Tigers, 69-67. Best named player ever Frankie Ferrari led the Dons with 18 points, who held off a strong second-half push by Pacific.

Meet the opponent

San Francisco Dons, 12-6, KenPom #156

Last time around, the Dons played the Zags rather tightly. The War Memorial Gymnasium holds a PTSD place in many of our hearts, thanks to a bunch of losses by the Zags there earlier in the decade. At home, the chatter is different.

As Gonzaga exposed in the first game this year, San Francisco’s issue is depth. Once you get past Jordan Ratinho, Frankie Ferrari, and uber freshman Souley Boum, the Dons struggle with offensive output—especially while missing senior forward Chase Foster. The Dons do play some pretty solid defense, and that was definitely a key in the first game. Gonzaga looked a bit sluggish out of the gates in the first half, and San Francisco’s defensive pressure wasn’t helping the cause at all.

Eventually, the Zags got it going. But the Dons still won a few battles. Although they lost the overall rebounding battle, San Francisco is adept at keeping opposing teams off the offensive glass. In the first game this season, the Zags only snared six offensive rebounds. But that was really the one big battle.

San Francisco’s other claim to fame is a solid two-point defense—ranked No. 96 in the nation, holding opponents to 47.9 percent. Gonzaga shot 61.8 percent from inside the arc against the Dons, and there isn’t much to suggest that will change. Rui Hachimura has been absolutely rolling as of late and San Francisco doesn’t have an athletic answer for him, let alone Killian Tillie or Johnathan Williams.

What to watch out for

A bounce back effort from Rui Hachimura.

Rui had his worst game in this season against Portland, which is quite alright because the young forward had been absolutely rolling the WCC competition. A down night here or there is OK as long as someone else picks up the slack. Rui just couldn’t get anything going against Portland, finishing with three personal fouls and four turnovers in just 12 minutes of play. Hopefully, we see a much better game from him tomorrow.

Welcome back Corey Kispert!

Kispert has been a bit quiet since his ankle injury earlier in the season, so his career high 23 points was a solid exclamation mark. Kispert was heavily involved in the offense on Thursday, taking a team-high 10 three point attempts, and grabbing four offensive rebounds on his way to a double-double. His effort was extra necessary, because Zach Norvell had to hit the bench early due to foul trouble. If Kispert and Norvell can effectively swap each other in an out when the other is having a bit of trouble, it really solidifies the three spot for the Zags.

If the three isn’t falling, move the ball inside.

San Francisco does a decent job of guarding the perimeter. Three point attempts only 30.6 of all their opponents field goal attempts, good for the 16th best mark in the country. The Zags are a team that really likes hitting threes, especially players like Josh Perkins. If San Francisco is constantly throwing a hand in the face, which they probably will due to an aggressive man-to-man defense, the Zags just need to dump the ball down low. The Zags can bully down low with Johnathan Williams, Killian Tillie, and Rui Hachimura.