Gonzaga doesn’t get much time to bask in a performance that had the college basketball world buzzing Thursday.
The top-ranked Zags, who thumped No. 6 Kansas 102-90 on Thanksgiving Day, return to action Friday with a breakfast special against Auburn at 8 a.m. PST at the Fort Myers (Florida) Tip-Off.
Auburn outlasted St. Joseph’s 96-91 in overtime in Thursday’s second game. Former Gonzaga guard Greg Foster Jr. scored 11 points for St. Joseph’s, which meets Kansas in Friday’s second contest.
Auburn has one of the youngest teams in the nation. The Tigers return just 15% (384 points) of their total points scored from a year ago. By comparison, forward Drew Timme was Gonzaga’s seventh-leading scorer last season with 323 points.
Auburn, 25-6 last season, graduated a senior class that won 99 games, the best four-year run in school history, and lost Isaac Okoro, the program’s first one-and-done player. He was selected fifth overall in the NBA draft.
“When you’ve got a brand-new team – and I don’t think Auburn has had a team that’s lost its entire starting five since 1950 – that just sort of tells you how unprecedented this is,” head coach Bruce Pearl said prior to the season opener.
Jaylin Williams, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound sophomore forward, had 18 points in 37 minutes – both team highs – in Thursday’s victory. Freshman guard Justin Powell, 6-6 and 205, hit three 3-pointers and added 17 points. Five Tigers scored in double figures.
The athletic Tigers converted 21 offensive rebounds into 30 points. They made 29 of 43 free throws and connected on 9 of 32 3-point attempts.
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