There’s no shortage of quality matchups in this one, but we’re going with the big men in the middle: Washington freshman Isaiah Stewart and Gonzaga sophomore Filip Petrusev. It isn’t necessarily a 1-on-1 matchup with the Huskies usually employing a zone defense, but the two will see plenty of each other.
The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Stewart leads UW in points per game (16.5), rebounds per game (7.6) and total blocks (16). Petrusev, 6-11 and 235 pounds, does the same for the Zags at 15.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 13 blocks.
Stewart, projected by many as an NBA lottery pick, has a great motor and scoring touch inside, but he’s been prone to fouls. Petrusev can score with either hand and has improved as a rebounder.
Petrusev struggled mightily to finish against Michigan 7-1 center Jon Teske in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game. Stewart presents a different challenge. He is 4 inches shorter than Teske but has a 7-4 wing span. Stewart possesses a unique combination of power and mobility.
Stewart is a force in the paint. Expect Gonzaga to double Stewart at times and force Husky perimeter shooters to prove they’re more accurate than their 30.7% on 3-pointers. Stewart has just six assists in eight games, so he hasn’t made opponents pay for double teams. He also hasn’t shown an ability to stretch the floor (0 of 5 on 3s).
“I played him in high school my senior year,” said Petrusev, who was a standout with Montverde (Florida) Academy. “He was the same way, as big as he is right now. We just have to go at him. He’s in the middle of their zone.
“Defensively, just try to keep the ball out, because he’s a good player for sure. If we can get the ball out of his hands, we’ll be better off.”
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