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Arizona men's basketball hosts Gonzaga for biggest game of season so far

"Arizona men's basketball defeats Illinois 90-69 during their second game during their season. The Wildcats will take on San Jose State on November 14. 

For the first time since 2017 there will be a top-25 matchup at the McKale Center. No. 13 Arizona men’s basketball hosts No. 6 Gonzaga this Saturday at 8 p.m.

While Arizona has some business to take care of on Wednesday against Omaha, Gonzaga will come into the game with only one loss and is coming off a big win at No. 22 Washington. Washington isn’t the only Pac-12 team that Gonzaga has beat, though.

At the end of November, the Bulldogs played in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which featured teams such as Oregon, Michigan and North Carolina. Gonzaga took down Oregon in overtime before falling to Michigan by 18 in the championship. 

Arizona is coming off its first loss of the season at No. 18 Baylor in a game where they shot 27% and made only two three-pointers. Although they shot poorly, they still had a chance at the end of the game to sent it into overtime. Nico Mannion and Josh Green didn’t practice all week but still started and played their regular amount of minutes. The Wildcats will still be without Stone Gettings this week, who suffered a concussion and facial fracture during the Wooden Legacy at the end of November.

RELATED: Poor shooting dooms Arizona in first loss of the season against Baylor

Arizona and Gonzaga have had many memorable games in past years, including just last year when Arizona was up by as many as 13 but fell apart at the end. The last time Gonzaga made a trip to the McKale Center, they were ranked No. 6 and the Wildcats were No. 3 and it was Arizona who came out on top in overtime by three. While Arizona leads the all time series at 6-3, it’s been Gonzaga head coach Mark Few that’s gotten the best of Miller the last two times these teams have faced off. 

Few has been one of the best overseas recruiters during his time at Gonzaga and that hasn’t changed this year. Six of the team’s players are from outside of the country. Filip Petrusev, Killian Tillie and Joel Ayayi are all from different parts of the world but have been playing well together as three of Few’s starting five. Petrusev is Gonzaga’s leading scorer with 15.8 ppg and is also leading in rebounds with 8.5 rpg. Tillie and Petrusev are both experienced big men and could cause many problems for freshman Zeke Nnaji and inconsistent Chase Jeter. 

If Arizona is going to win this game they are going to have to have their guards help on double-teams and hope Gonzaga doesn’t have a good shooting day from three. They knocked down six against Washington and could do more damage against an Arizona team that hasn’t been great at defending the three. 

The game will be sold out and Arizona fans will be loud as always. Since students are still in town because of finals, the ZonaZoo should be packed, making it the toughest environment Gonzaga will play in all year. While Gonzaga has more experience and has played tougher teams this season, the McKale Center is the great equalizer that this young Arizona team will need to stay in the game throughout and possibly pull out an upset.


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