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Gonzaga vs. Texas A&M game preview: A SEC squad finally comes to Spokane

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Texas A&M is the first team from the SEC to play at Gonzaga.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Southern at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in school history, a team from the SEC is coming to meet its doom as the Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the Texas A&M Aggies in The Kennel, on Thursday, Nov. 15. This is the second meeting between the two schools, with the Aggies owning a 1-0 lead after defeating the Zags in the 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis by one point.

Gonzaga is rolling off of two impressive wins to open the season. In the season opener against Idaho State, the Zags posted their fifth-most point total in school history. The Bulldogs continued the crush against Texas Southern over the weekend.

Things aren’t going as swimmingly for Texas A&M. The Aggies are coming off a one-point loss to UC Irvine, where they were outscored by ten points in the final ten minutes.

Meet the opponent

Texas A&M Aggies, 1-1, KenPom #62

Take everything you know about last year’s Aggies squad and throw it out the window since barely anyone remains. This is a much different squad from the team that made it to the Sweet 16 last year. This year, the question is whether or not they’ll even make the NCAA Tournament.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Aggies don’t have dudes that can ball. Sophomore guard TJ Starks has struggled mightily to find his shot, but he has shown the ability to hit it before. He is paired up with forward Savion Flagg, who is averaging 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Flagg has played like the best player on the squad through the first two games.

Overall, this is going to be an uphill climb for the Aggies. Texas A&M was picked to finish 12th in the SEC during Media Day. The Zags are revving on all cylinders and Texas A&M is not quite there yet.

What to watch out for

Watch the fouls down low.

Christian Mekowulu and Josh Nebo have done a great job of drawing fouls in the first two games of the season. Brandon Clarke was limited by foul trouble in his first game in a Gonzaga uniform, and, compounded with the recent injury to Killian Tillie, it meant we got to see some more of Filip Petrusev and Jeremy Jones than probably expected.

Either way, Clarke has to play smartly in this game (and all games) going forward with regards to fouls. Although Petrusev has looked impressive in his first couple of games, the Zags aren’t uber-deep in the front court.

Can Josh Perkins keep up his torrid assist rate?

Don’t look now, but Perkins fifth in the country at 9.5 assists per game. He is one of six players to have at least 15 assists and less than two turnovers total. That is a number that is bound to fall a certain amount, but hopefully, not too quickly. If you want to find out a reason why the Gonzaga offense has looked so gosh darn fantastic in the first two games, look no further than Perkins elevated level of play.

This is Rui Hachimura’s world, and we are all living in it.

Get ready to hear a lot of talk about Rui Hachimura from the rest of the nation. Rui has look as electric as we all expected, and perhaps a bit more. He has been the offensive focal point on a stellar offense, averaging 25 points through two games. This will be his first chance to put those on display to a national audience this year, and going forward, we should slowly but surely expect the rest of the nation wake up to what we’ve been enjoying in Spokane for the past two seasons.