30 second game guide
Bring’em Out: Memphis Tigers 16-6 (5-3 C-USA) Gonzaga Bulldogs 15-8 (5-3 WCC) at Veterans Memorial Arena at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
Watch for: A tight game to the end in the Arena. It’s rare this annual meeting between the Tigers and Bulldogs comes out with a lopsided result. However, it did happen the last time these two tangled in Spokane, (68-50 Memphis) but we’re talking about two completely shaken-up rosters. Both teams are having “down” seasons by their own standards. Memphis is coming off two-consecutive losses, (most recently to 12-10 Tulsa in the FedEx Forum) while we’ve seen GU just start to get its feet back underneath it. A recipe for a close game, I believe.
Fear: The Zags’ growing confidence. It was pretty painful to watch them fall in a 17-4 hole at Portland Thursday, but even more elating to see them find their way out to win it. Don’t underestimate the importance of that victory in the Rose City (just ask Saint Mary’s). Not only was it the Bulldogs’ first WCC road win, but it came against one of the toughest teams in the conference who can shoot the lights out. Gonzaga took those two major steps Thursday. Look for that to carry over into Spokane Arena.
Respect: Will Barton. The latest in freshman phenom guards to play at Memphis, Barton has already assumed leadership responsibilities in Wesley Witherspoon’s absence (injured knee). Witherspoon, who was the Tigers’ leading scorer, had sugery to repair cartilage in his right knee December 10th and was only expected to miss five weeks. Here we are nearly two months later and he hasn’t sniffed the floor. Barton (13.1 ppg) has picked up the slack to lead a group of young, talented Tigers.
Random Stuff: Gonzaga is 1-4 vs. Memphis in the past five seasons and 2-4 all-time against the Tigers (88-73 win in 1999).