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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga-Santa Clara key matchup: Jalen Williams enters Saturday’s game as WCC’s top scorer

Only two players in the West Coast Conference have scored at a higher clip this season than Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, who’s averaging 17.7 points per game after an efficient 30-point outing against BYU on Thursday.

The Bulldogs’ next game will pit Timme against one of the only players in the conference scoring at a better rate than Gonzaga’s junior forward.

Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams enters Saturday’s matinee matchup at the Leavey Center against No. 2 Gonzaga as the WCC’s top scorer, averaging 19.0 points per game. The number ranks Williams No. 44 in the country and also No. 29 among midmajor players.

Williams has scored well all season, posting double figures in all 16 games , and the junior guard is coming off consecutive 20-point games, recording 22 points in an 84-70 win over Pacific after scoring 20 in a 79-57 victory at San Jose State. Prior to the SJSU game, Williams scored just 10 points in a win over Montana, but that followed a 25-point outing against Florida A&M.

Among the WCC’s top 20 scorers, Timme and Williams are the only players who’ve hit the 30-point plateau this season.

Timme’s done it twice, scoring a career-high 37 against Texas before hitting 30 against BYU, and Williams hit the mark in a 70-58 win over Hawaii, scoring 30 points on 13-of-18 shooting while hitting just one 3-pointer.

Williams isn’t the high-volume 3-point shooter BYU’s Alex Barcello is, taking just 3.2 per game, but he’s hitting his perimeter shots at an career-high clip of 39% this season. The Gilbert, Arizona, native is explosive off the dribble and effective at getting to the free-throw line, attempting at least eight free throws in four games.

In theory, Gonzaga could throw a variety of players at Williams , but Santa Clara’s Josip Vrankic (6-foot-9) and Keshawn Justice (6-7) also demand plenty of attention in the frontcourt, both averaging 15.0 ppg. Assuming some combination of Timme, Chet Holmgren and Anton Watson will be assigned to Vrankic and Justice, sophomore wing Julian Strawther is likely to match up with Williams, who’s also averaging 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the Broncos.

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