KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Gonzaga left the basketball court last Tuesday beaten on the boards and unsure of sophomore forward Elias Harris’ health.
The Bulldogs return to action Monday night to face another strong rebounding team but buoyed by the return of Harris, who is expected to play against No. 3 Kansas State at 6:30 PST in the CBE Classic at the Sprint Center. It wasn’t known if Harris would start, but his Achilles tendon has healed sufficiently to play six days after limping off the court late in a 79-76 loss to San Diego State.
No. 1 Duke (3-0) and Marquette (4-0) meet at 4:30 in the other semifinal.
“The thing that jumps out at you is just how hard they play, which is a talent and a skill in itself,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Wildcats (3-0), who are outrebounding opponents by four per game. “It’s kind of a crusade to score against them (allowing 61.7 points per game) and they’re another terrific rebounding team. Obviously with (preseason Associated Press All-America guard Jacob) Pullen and their inside guys, they have a nice inside-outside game.”
San Diego State had 24 second-chance points while outrebounding Gonzaga 39-29.
“The first thing we have to do is shore up our rebounding,” Few said. “That’s something we take pride in and we got it handed to us pretty good (by San Diego State).”
The Wildcats defeated No. 22 Virginia Tech by 16 with foul-plagued Pullen limited to 14 minutes and without forward Curtis Kelly, who averaged 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season. Kelly played in two exhibition games but hasn’t appeared in three regular-season games, including Thursday night’s win over Presbyterian.
“He’s doing a lot better,” head coach Frank Martin said during a Thursday morning conference call. “As long as he’s consistent with his approach and meets the expectations we create for everyone on our team, he’ll be back out there.”