Saturday’s Gonzaga-New Mexico State men’s basketball matchup should be interesting on several levels.
For one of the rare times in his career, Gonzaga sophomore center Przemek Karnowski will look up at an opponent. The 7-foot-1 center from Poland, who sees eye-to-eye with true freshman Ryan Edwards in practice, will encounter NMSU’s 7-5, 355-pound Sim Bhullar.
Bulldogs forward Sam Dower (6-9, 243) will likely start out against the Aggies’ Tshilidzi Nephawe, a 6-10, 265-pound junior from South Africa.
“It’s probably one of the teams in America bigger than us across the front line,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of NMSU, the preseason WAC favorite. “They’re absolutely huge, and then they have some really athletic guys at other spots.”
Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos will see former Canadian teammate Daniel Mullings. Pangos and Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer, Mullings and ex-Zag Manny Arop (now at Indiana State) helped Canada go 6-2 at the World University Games last summer in Russia.
“I did talk to (Pangos) about it and of course we were trash-talking,” Mullings told bballgroves.blogspot.com in July. “I’m looking forward to it. I told him, ‘I’m going to be guarding you. Nobody else.’”
Mullings, NMSU’s top scorer at 17.7 points, Bhullar, who set a school record with 10 blocks versus Prairie View A&M earlier this season, forward Renaldo Dixon and Bhullar’s 7-3, 335-pound younger brother, Tanveer, who is redshirting, are from Toronto. Pangos is from Holland Landing, about an hour’s drive north of Toronto.
The 19th-ranked Bulldogs (7-1) have had nearly a week to prepare for New Mexico State (7-3), which lost to rival New Mexico on Wednesday and visits No. 2 Arizona next Wednesday. The Aggies’ other losses are to Western Michigan and Colorado State, which lost to GU 93-61 nearly a month ago.
Bhullar averages 9.8 points and 7.4 rebounds and Nephawe checks in at 9.1 and 6.7, respectively. Junior guard DK Eldridge, a 52-percent 3-point shooter, averages 12.1 points.