SEATTLE – The current edition of the Gonzaga Bulldogs won’t be confused with last year’s, but they do share similar bottom lines.
At this time last season, Gonzaga, led by Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris, was 9-1 and ranked 14th going into the Battle in Seattle against Kansas State. The current Bulldogs, led by Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Sam Dower Jr., are 9-1 and ranked 20th (tied for 16th in the USA Today poll) entering Saturday’s Battle in Seattle versus South Alabama.
GU dominated Kansas State a year ago and will be double-digit favorites against South Alabama (5-4) at KeyArena. The Bulldogs are 6-4 in the event.
“It always means something to go to Seattle where a lot of our fan base is,” senior guard David Stockton said. “It’s just a lot of fun to go back to Gary’s hometown and an area a lot of us are familiar with.”
The Jaguars have dropped two of their last three and carry a modest RPI of 179. They were picked second in the preseason Sun Belt Conference poll. Senior forward Augustine Rubit, a two-time all-conference first-teamer, was tabbed player of the year.
Rubit, 6-feet-7 and 220 pounds, is No. 1 on the school’s all-time rebounding list and No. 1 among active Division I players with 981 rebounds.
He has 46 career double-doubles. He’s joined up front by 6-6 junior Mychal Ammons, who averages 9.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. Senior guard Antoine Allen (10.1 ppg) is coming off a 26-point effort in a triple-overtime loss to Rice.
“Rubit is one of those multi-dimensional guys who can scoot outside and shoot, can drive on you and he’s really athletic around the hoop,” coach Mark Few said. “He’ll be a tough matchup for us.”
GU has a size advantage inside with the 6-9 Dower and 7-1, 295-pound Przemek Karnowski.
The Jags’ heaviest player is the 225-pound Ammons, but they’ve outrebounded opponents by 4.2 per game. Viktor Juricek, 6-11 and 210 pounds, is the only Jag taller than 6-8 and he’s only played 14 minutes.