Saint Mary’s has one of the top one-two punches in the country with senior guard Jordan Ford and junior forward Malik Fitts. We’ll pick Ford for the key matchup, but both present matchup issues.
The 6-foot-1 Ford is the latest off the Gaels’ assembly line of crafty guards that can create their own shot or operate off ball screens. He’s not far from the rare 50-40-90 level with his 48.2% field-goal shooting, 41.8% accuracy from deep and 81.3% at the foul line.
Ford leads the Gaels in scoring (21.0 points per game) and leads the nation in minutes played (932 according to the Gaels, 934 according to the NCAA). He’s played all 40 minutes in SMC’s past two games. He scored 19 points and had a season-high six assists in Thursday’s 66-60 victory against San Diego.
Tommy Kuhse, who leads SMC with 96 assists, is the point guard, but the ball often finds Ford. He’s the preferred option when the shot clock drops under 10 seconds.
Senior Ryan Woolridge, who typically draws the opponent’s top perimeter threat, likely will guard Ford with Joel Ayayi matching up against Kuhse.
Woolridge’s quickness will be tested by Ford’s multitude of moves. The Gaels will try to apply additional pressure with ball screens that will require Gonzaga to be sharp in its coverages.
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