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Cal State Bakersfield vs #11 Gonzaga Preview

A tune-up game before the Zags head to Las Vegas to take on USC.

Allstate Maui Invitational - Gonzaga v UCLA Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

The Hawaii vacation is over and the Zags are back in beautiful Spokane, Washington as they welcome the Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield. This is a great opportunity for guys like Ryan Nembhard, Nolan Hickman, Dusty Stromer, and Anton Watson who all played 30+ minutes against UCLA to get some early rest in case this game gets out of hand. Those starters are going need to save all the energy they can in preparation for Isaiah Collier and the USC Trojans in Las Vegas on Saturday.

This is a great opportunity for bench pieces like Luka Krajnovic and Jun Seok Yeo to get a solid amount of run and gain valuable game reps. The bench production is something to be worried about going forward especially with the lack of guard depth. One guard like Nembhard or Hickman dealing with early foul trouble and major problems start to arise.

This part of the non-conference schedule doesn’t getting any easier going forward as well.

Cal State Bakersfield’s record -

3-3 (W vs Southern Utah, L @ #21 USC, L @ Cal, W vs Saint Katherine, W vs Sacramento State, L vs Tarleton State)

Key stats -

64.5 PPG

69.0 points allowed

42.7 FG%

23.7 3P%

68.8 FT%

34.5 RPG

10.0 APG

5.8 SPG

3.8 BPG

12.2 TO

KenPom rankings -

#313 overall

97.8 adjusted offensive efficiency (#300)

110.0 adjusted defensive efficiency (#308)

Key player to watch for -

Kaleb Higgins (senior, guard) - 16.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.0 RPG

Higgins tore his meniscus that ended his 2022-2023 season early but he’s back as the go-to scoring option for the Roadrunners. He is the engine that pushes this Bakersfield offense forward and puts up 14.8 field goal attempts per game. Ryan Nembhard and Nolan Hickman will have their hands full trying to slow down Higgins but do have a height advantage over the 5’10” guard.

Shouldn’t be much of a scare for the Zags when they host the Roadrunners later tonight at 6 PM PT on ESPN+. The Kennel will be rocking as this is the first time the student body is back from the Thanksgiving break.

Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho