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Zags back on road at Memphis

I've put together a short preview of Saturday's GU-Memphis game. The unedited version is below.

By Jim Meehan

jimm@spokesman.com; (208) 765-7131

One of Gonzaga’s bigger wins of the season elicited the briefest of celebrations.

Shortly after throttling Portland 76-49 on Thursday, Gonzaga’s attention was already turning toward a fast-approaching non-conference date with Memphis. The teams collide today at 1 p.m. PST at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, roughly 39 hours after the Zags left the McCarthey Athletic Center court Thursday night.

“Unfortunately, we have about five minutes to celebrate, then we have to go home, get to bed and get up and fly across the country,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “It’s a really tough turnaround.”

They’ve done it before. The Bulldogs (18-4) defeated Oklahoma on New Year’s Eve and less than 36 hours later lined up against Illinois in Chicago. GU won in overtime.

Today’s game is big for both teams. With the Spokane Arena serving as a site for NCAA Tournament first- and second-round games, Gonzaga can bolster its chances of landing a virtual home assignment.  ESPN.com’s latest Bracketology doesn’t project Memphis (16-6, 6-2 Conference USA) making the 64-team field, but a win over 17th-ranked Gonzaga would certainly help the Tigers’ case.  

“It’s a really big game for our NCAA resume,” Few said.

Memphis is 4-0 against Gonzaga the last four years, including a 68-50 rout last season at the Spokane Arena. The Tigers lost coach John Calipari to Kentucky, but first-year coach Josh Pastner has Memphis in the thick of the Conference USA title chase. Memphis defeated Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday, knocking the Blazers out of first place.

Sophomore guard Elliot Williams averages a team-leading 20 points. Wesley Witherspoon (11.6 points), Roburt Sallie (10.8) and Doneal Mack (10.7) also average double figures. Since the 2005 Conference USA Tournament, the Tigers are 95-6 at the FedEx Forum.

Gonzaga senior guard Matt Bouldin hasn’t had much success against the Tigers. In three career games, he’s scored just 20 points on 7-of-26 shooting.

“I don’t think I’ve played a good game against them,” Bouldin said. “They’ve had some great teams. They use their athleticism, length and quickness to their advantage.”

 

 



Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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