San Diego State (1-0) at Gonzaga (1-0)
When: Monday, November 14th 2016
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, WA
Time: Midnight ET | TV: ESPN2
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Two teams with high expectations this year, will meet in their second game Monday night in Spokane, Washington as the Gonzaga Bulldogs host the San Diego State Aztecs. The Zags will be looking for their 19th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and got off to a good start in their opener with a 92-69 win over Utah Valley on Friday. Senior center Przemek Karnowski made a comeback after missing all but the first five games last season with a back injury and scored 14 points and had seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Nigel Williams-Goss, a junior guard who averaged 14.5 points in two seasons with Washington before sitting out last year, is one of 50 players on the Naismith Trophy watch list. Williams-Goss got into the mix immediately on Friday with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Senior guard Jordan Mathews, who spent the last three seasons averaging 11.8 points at California, recorded 16 points and five assists while junior forward Johnathan Williams III (8.7 points at Missouri, sat out last season) contributed six points and seven rebounds before fouling out. The Bulldogs shot 52.2% from the field Friday after finishing 11th in the nation at 48.6% last season.
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The Aztecs, who are just outside the Top 25 poll, opened the season with a 69-59 victory over San Diego on Friday. San Diego State has been selected as the favorites to defend their Mountain West Conference title this year. Head coach Steve Fisher used only eight players Friday as one of his best players, junior forward Malik Pope (7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds last season), did not play because of a knee injury. Pope was listed to start in an exhibition game against Cal State San Marcos on November 7th but was a late scratch, with Fisher telling reporters: “I’m not sure what Malik did. He was warming up, feeling good and then all of a sudden his knee started to bother him.” The Aztecs have several players listed on the preseason honor roll including forward Jalen McDaniels, who is predicted to be co-Freshman of the Year. Sophomore guard Montaque Gill-Caesar is the predicted Newcomer of the Year and junior guard Trey Kell is an All-MWC team selection. Sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley took over on Friday with 25 points while Kell contributed 23.
Gonzaga is really tough to beat at home, but ranked teams have been doing better in the last few years at McCarthey Arena. Pope is doubtful for this game, but the Aztecs have enough talent to hang with Gonzaga. I’ll take the points.
Pick: San Diego State +9.5