30 second game guide
Bring’em Out: No. 20/21 (AP/Coaches) Illinois (7-1) vs. No. 24 (Coaches) Gonzaga (4-2) in the 8th annual Battle in Seattle at KeyArena, Saturday at 2:15 p.m. on ESPN.
Watch for: Gonzaga usually gets at least one marquee win over a ranked opponent in the pre-conference schedule. So far, the Zags are 0-2 versus Top-25 schools (San Diego St. Kansas St.) and are running out of chances to notch that key non-WCC win. The Illini could be GU’s best shot, considering the game will be in Seattle, where a huge Bulldog contingency lies.
Fear: Demetri McCamey, plain and simple. Stop McCamey, stop Illinois. A reigning first team all Big Ten performer, he is the engine that makes his team go. Last year, he nearly brought the Illini back, single-handedly from a 21-point deficit against GU. The Zags were able to win in overtime, but McCamey’s leadership and court-presence dwarfed anything the Bulldogs had in the second half. He’s a senior this season, and is the biggest reason Illinois is 7-1.
Respect: The Bulldogs’ ability to perform on the big stage. National television, sold out foreign arena, ranked opponent…no big deal. It’s no secret Gonzaga has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in America. Now it’s time to once again show it’s good for a win-or-two against one of the so-called “big boys”.
Random Stuff: The Zags are 1-2 all time against Illinois with the only win coming last season in Chicago (85-83 in OT). Gonzaga is just 4-3 all time in the Battle in Seattle. Steven Gray, Elias Harris and Robert Sacre (all returners) combined for 58 points the last time GU played Illinois. Harris had a second MRI on his right Achilles tendon Thursday, and again, the results came back negative. He is expected to see action Saturday.