Arizona Basketball: Gonzaga wants payback from the Wildcats who will be short-handed, Trier traveling with team


Arizona Basketball and Gonzaga have gotten to know each other over the years. This time they face-off on LA with No. 8 Gonzaga as a 5 1/2 point favorite.

In March of 2014, the Arizona Basketball team beat Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament 84-61. Nine months later the two squared off in Tucson and battled it out in OT with the Wildcats coming out on top 66-63. Almost one year later the two squared off again, this time in Spokane, with Arizona again winning 68-63.

Saturday in L.A. the two will come together for the fourth time in a span of three years. Only Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic, and Allonzo Trier have played significant minutes against the Bulldogs. Now only Dusan is available for the Saturday rematch.

Gonzaga lost their top three scorers from last year but bring in a lot of experience in their transfers. They may be different, but transfers Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews, who dropped 28 on Arizona, are familiar faces.

Arizona is 6-1 all-time versus the Zags with the only loss back in 2011. If you ask current Gonzaga players, they feel the record should be tied at 3-3. Evan Closky with KREM-TV shared some of those feelings.

More from Wildcats Basketball

“I think we should have won both those years. The third time’s the charm. Like I said, we’ve got something for them. Send a message Saturday. We feel like we owe them some payback. It’s been some years building up. Saturday’s a time for us to get back at them.” – Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins (see tweet above).

Arizona is definitely facing their toughest opponent yet. Transfers Williams-Goss (Washington) and Mathews (California) make up a very good backcourt. Przemek Karnowski is back to manning the frontcourt after missing last year’s game, and most of the season, due to back surgery.

Gonzaga will be one of the few teams Arizona faces this year that can match them size for size.

Currently, eight players play significant minutes for the Bulldogs: 7-foot-1 Karnowski, 7-foot Freshmen Zach Collins, 6-foot-10 Freshmen Killian Tillie, 6-foot-9 Jonathon Williams, 6-foot-4 Jordan Mathews, 6-foot-4 Silas Melson, 6-foot-3 Josh Perkins, 6-foot-3 Williams-Goss.

Dec 5, 2015; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Domantas Sabonis (11) goes up against Arizona Wildcats center Dusan Ristic (14) during the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Wildcats won 68-63. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2015; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Domantas Sabonis (11) goes up against Arizona Wildcats center Dusan Ristic (14) during the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Wildcats won 68-63. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports /

With only seven scholarship players available, Sean Miller has his work cut out for him on Saturday. Do you only play a seven-man rotation? Do any of the walk-on’s play? If so, how many and for how long? The team is a mess right now. If the Wildcats want to pull off the upset, they will need to win in the following areas: fouls, free throws, turnovers.

Both teams present size and strength. Since both teams like to go inside and body-up, fouls are going to play a key role in deciding this game.

This is especially concerning because no one for the Wildcats can muscle Karnowski. In previous years Kaleb Tarczewski had the size and strength to go toe-to-toe. But Dusan is not strong enough to take on the 7-foot-1 300 lb beast alone. The Wildcats will need to double down and play tight help defense if Karnowski gets to be too much.

When the game got physical with Butler, Lauri was limited to 21 minutes and fouled out. Factor in starting three freshmen who are still getting used to the game, fouls must be limited for the Wildcats to have a chance.

Speaking of freshmen, the Wildcats will need a clean game from their trio. With Parker out, Kobi Simmons is pushed into the starting lineup. There’s no doubt the three can play. Regarding athleticism and talent, they’re among the best in the nation. But you always have to worry about freshmen lapses.

The Wildcats have been great this year not turning the ball over, majorly due to Parker’s play. With his injury, Kadeem will slide to the starting PG spot. Kobi will take the reins when Kadeem is resting. Rawle Alkins could also bring the ball up for the Wildcats. All three players have tremendous talent and can run the team. If there was an area they have struggled in, it would be being careless with the ball. The Bulldogs will rely on their experience to disrupt and get in the heads of our guards.

Please note, it seems Trier boarded the plan for Los Angeles. He did not board the plane for Las Vegas. Does it mean anything? We will find out when we go to STAPLES Center to watch this game live. This would change things up a bit in the line-up if Zo played, but everyone is going to have to adjust again for this big game.

Finally, free throws will be critical. Not simply because you need to capitalize on points when they come your way. More due to what a free throw does to the game; slows it down, allows time to regroup and rest. Have we mentioned the Wildcats only have seven scholarship players available?

Saturday’s showdown could go one of two ways. It could be a very close, down to the wire battle, as it has been the last two times. However, it could also spell doom for the Wildcats. Gonzaga is undefeated, experienced, hungry and well-coached.

If Arizona allows the Bulldogs to go up by double digits early, the game could get ugly. Miller’s squad absolutely has the talent to beat Gonzaga. They will need to be on their A game the entire 40 minutes. BEARDOWN!

Must Read: No. 16 Arizona Basketball bounces back in an emphatic win against Texas Southern

Game Information

  • Location: Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
  • Time: 2:30 p.m. PST/ 3:30 p.m. MST
  • TV: ESPN
  • Radio: Arizona IMG Radio Network