Posted on December 14, 2012 at 2:22 PM
No. 14 Gonzaga (9-1) takes on Kansas State (7-1) in the Battle in Seattle Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in KeyArena. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
The Stats – Kansas State does the “little things” really, really well. The Wildcats are tops in the nation in offensive rebounding (19.3 per game). They only allow teams to shoot 22.2 percent from deep (2nd best in the country). K-State is the sixth best rebounding team (44.6). Bruce Weber’s crew is also top-25 in a variety of categories that include scoring ‘D’, rebounding margin, and assist-to-turnover ratio. Kansas State also averages 17.1 points off turnovers. They’re a team that hurts the opponent, without returning the favor. The high-scoring Zags and their nation’s best 52.7 shooting percentage will certainly be challenged. They went 5-for-18 from deep and turned it over 16 times against Illinois. A repeat performance against K-State would spell trouble.
The Stars – Like the Illini, Weber’s is a balanced, guard-oriented team. Backcourt mates Rodney McGruder (12.9) and Angel Rodriguez (10.5) are their only double-digit scorers. Those two don’t necessarily always carry the load, though. Five different players have at least tied for top-scoring honors through their eight games. K-State uses a three-guard lineup, but one post in particular keeps it from looking like an open buffet for the GU bigs – that’s Jordan Henriquez. The 6-foot-11-inch senior forward owns the school’s career and single-season record for blocked shots. However, Henriquez hasn’t faced big men like Mark Few’s. Kelly Olynyk in particular seems to be up for every challenge – most notably his 22 point second half outburst against Brock Motum and Washington State. His scoring average is up to 14.1 on 66.7 percent shooting. He and Elias Harris will hopefully benefit from a healthy Sam Dower.
The Storylines – Saturday marks the third meeting between Gonzaga and K-State, with the Wildcats taking the previous two. Most recently the Zags dropped an 81-64 decision in November 2010. What’s more telling is Weber’s 3-1 record against GU while he was with Illinois. Two years ago Weber guided Illinois to a 73-61 Battle in Seattle victory. This game is in its 10th year, with Gonzaga sporting a 5-4 record. The Zags will continue their series against Weber, and play its fourth game against K-State next season with GU scheduled to hit the road in the back end of a two-year deal.