Gonzaga returns to the court Wednesday licking its wounds from its most lopsided loss since the 2014 season and with concerns about several players’ health status.
The ninth-ranked Zags (8-1), who entertain Texas Southern (2-5) at the McCarthey Athletic Center, lost 82-64 to Michigan in Friday’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship game.
It was Gonzaga’s largest margin in a loss since falling to Arizona 84-61 in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Zags have suffered just seven double-digit losses since the 2013-14 season. The setback also clipped GU’s 28-game regular-season winning streak that was the longest in the nation.
Gonzaga entered the tournament averaging 88.3 points and shooting 52% from the field but endured offensive dry spells against top-notch competition.
The Zags were limited to a season-low 64 points against Michigan, which vaulted to No. 4 in the latest AP poll. They made a season-low 38.7% of their shots in a gritty 73-72 overtime win against then-No. 11 Oregon on Thursday.
Gonzaga played without freshman forward Anton Watson (ankle) for all but the first minute of the Bahamas tournament. Coach Mark Few didn’t sound optimistic on his television show that Watson would return Wednesday.
Senior forward Killian Tillie (knee) played in the last two games. Starting guards Admon Gilder (knee) and Ryan Woolridge (knee) hobbled off the court in the second half of the opener, but both played in the final two games. Freshman forward Drew Timme continued to play after rolling his ankle in the title game.
It’s not an ideal time for a lengthy injury list with Gonzaga facing a three-game stretch against No. 22 Washington on Sunday, No. 12 Arizona on Dec. 14 and No. 7 North Carolina on Dec. 18.
The Zags hope to get healthy figuratively against the visiting Tigers, who were picked second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) preseason poll.
The Tigers have yielded nearly 80 points per game. Gonzaga routed Texas Southern 104-67 last season and 97-69 two years ago.
TSU edged Lamar 76-73 in its home opener Saturday. John Walker III, a 6-foot-9 transfer from Texas A&M, scored a career-high 20 points, and senior guard Tyrik Armstrong added 17 points. Armstrong is the lone player averaging double digits (14.0), but seven others average at least 5.2 points.
Texas Southern reached the NCAA Tournament in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Tigers went 3-1 in the CIT last season.
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