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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Key matchup: Hot-shooting Tyrell Roberts returns to Inland Northwest for San Francisco’s game at Gonzaga

Feb. 8, 2023 Updated Wed., Feb. 8, 2023 at 9:16 p.m.

Last year at Washington State, it took Tyrell Roberts an entire regular season – plus two games at the Pac-12 Tournament and four more in the NIT – to make 139 field goals and score 410 points.

Those were Roberts’ totals after 36 games, so if it says anything about how smooth the guard’s transition has been to San Francisco, he’s scheduled to surpass both totals Thursday against No. 16 Gonzaga – the 27th game of the Dons’ season.

Roberts is taking on more responsibilities as an offensive player in the West Coast Conference, but he’s not making any sacrifices when it comes to his efficiency.

Quite the opposite .

The senior, who previously played at WSU and Division II UC San Diego before that, is averaging 15.2 points this year after averaging 11.4 for Kyle Smith’s Cougars.

He’s making 44.5% of his field goals after posting a 35% clip last season with WSU.

Roberts has improved in just about every statistical category, making 39.9% on 3-pointers after hitting 34.4% at WSU and pulling down 3.4 rebounds per game after averaging 2.6 as a junior. Even while playing 5 more minutes per game, he’s managed to trim down on his turnovers, from 1.5 to 1.3 per game.

Roberts normally isn’t the focal point of opposing scouting reports – that honor goes to fellow senior Khalil Shabazz (16.0 ppg) – but he’s been a consistent double-digit scorer for USF, only struggling to reach that barrier in one game this season. Roberts was held to six points on 3-of-9 shooting from the floor in Thursday’s loss to Saint Mary’s.

“Those three guards are so dangerous and they gave us fits down at their place,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

A Sacramento, California, native, Roberts has been a high-percentage 3-pointer shooter his entire career, shooting better than 41% both seasons he was at UCSD while hovering just below 40% at USF this season.

Gonzaga’s defensive strategy against the Dons, particularly in the backcourt, could change if point guard Nolan Hickman isn’t available.

Hickman spent time guarding Roberts and Shabazz when the teams played at USF last month, but GU’s other point guard options, Hunter Sallis and Malachi Smith, could prove to be challenging for the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Roberts – Sallis with his length and quickness, Smith with his size and strength.

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