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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga-Arizona key matchup: Ryan Woolridge draws another tough matchup against Nico Mannion

Dec. 13, 2019 Updated Fri., Dec. 13, 2019 at 10:30 p.m.

A big game calls for a bonus key matchup.

From Gonzaga’s perspective, dealing with do-it-all Arizona point guard Nico Mannion tops the list. Mannion was one of the top recruits in the country and he’s projected as a lottery pick in numerous mock drafts.

The 6-foot-3 freshman orchestrates the offense as a scorer, driver and passer. He thrives in transition, moving without the ball and operating off high ball screens. He’s averaging 14.9 points and 6.2 assists.

It’s another high-profile assignment for Ryan Woolridge, Gonzaga’s best perimeter defender. Woolridge also likes to push the ball in the open court but prefers getting to the rim over 3-point shots in the half court.

If Woolridge can slow down Mannion, the Wildcats’ offense will be hard-pressed to reach its usual production.

From Arizona’s perspective, the top priority is Gonzaga’s quartet of bigs, but one matchup is particularly intriguing: Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji and GU’s Killian Tillie. Both are mobile bigs, but Tillie is a proven floor-spacer with his 3-point shooting. Nnaji is a high-percentage shooter (70.7%), but does most of his damage inside 10 feet.

Nnaji can expect to see double teams if he catches the ball close to the basket. Gonzaga’s chances for success increase if it can keep the Wildcats’ main interior threat under control.

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