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Key matchup: Gonzaga’s frontcourt will test Illinois freshman

Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke slams over Texas A&M forward Christian Mekowulu, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

This contest will be a clash of styles and wills with balanced, operate-through-bigs Gonzaga against younger, guard-heavy Illinois.

The front-court tandem of Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke looks to have an edge inside against the Illini’s typical four-guard/wing alignment.

Freshman Giorgi Behanishvih, 6-foot-9 and 235, plays beyond his years with a high basketball intellect, but he faces a tough matchup. If the Zags can deal with Illinois’ perimeter pressure, they’ll pound it inside and let Hachimura or Clarke work against Behanishvih, who is averaging 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, but was in foul trouble in a loss to Georgetown.

“I’ll let everybody have fun pronouncing his last name,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood joked during Sunday’s press conference. For the record, it’s GEORGE-ee be-SHON-ish-vil-ee.

The Zags can expect to see 7-foot grad transfer Adonis De La Rosa, but his minutes have been limited as he returns to playing shape from an ACL injury late last season with Kent State.