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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Key matchup: Wings help carry Gonzaga, North Florida offenses in season opener

Nov. 6, 2022 Updated Sun., Nov. 6, 2022 at 4:17 p.m.

North Florida and Gonzaga return a number of experienced players, presenting several quality options for the game’s key matchup.

It could be how North Florida’s forward tandem of Jadyn Parker and Jonathan Aybar, who will likely take turns defending Drew Timme, deal with GU’s All-American.

The guard matchups should be solid with the Zags’ Nolan Hickman and Rasir Bolton vs. Jose Placer and Jarius Hicklen.

But we’re going with 6-foot-7 wings Julian Strawther and Carter Hendricksen. The two had similar stat lines last season: Strawther 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 54 made 3-pointers; North Florida’s Hendricksen 12.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 47 3s.

Both are versatile scorers capable of moving to the power forward position in a small-ball alignment. Hendricksen opened last season by averaging three made 3s against Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Grand Canyon, Arizona State and UCLA. He canned six 3s in a 27-point performance against Jacksonville State.

Hendricksen, a fifth-year senior, has averaged 14.1 points the last three seasons and was first-team All-ASUN in 2021 and second team in 2020.

Strawther was more efficient – hitting 36.5% on 3s and nearly 50% from the field to Henricksen’s 30.5% and 34.8%, respectively – and appears ready to assume a bigger role as a junior.

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