College Basketball Game of the Week: Gonzaga vs. Iowa

Story posted December 18, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

On Saturday, Dec. 19, the first ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs will take on the third ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

As one of the more marquee matchups this basketball season, this game determines who is ready for a championship run. The two teams are very similar when it comes to the man in the paint.

For the Zags, forward Drew Timme has been producing in many ways. The 6-foot-10 sophomore from Texas has put up 23.3 points per game while grabbing about six rebounds per game.

Iowa does have the front runner for the Wooden Award with center Luka Garza. The big man in Iowa City has blazed through the first six games, averaging 29.5 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

Gonzaga does have another threat on offense with forward Corey Kispert, who has been Timme’s right hand man all season. Kispert averages 22.3 points per game and shoots 60 percent from the field and 45 percent from the perimeter.

Along with the forward duo, guards Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi have been keeping pace with Mark Few’s system. They have averaged double-digit points to the team’s totals.

The Bulldogs overall have shot over 50 percent from the floor, scoring 93 points per game while only allowing about 80 points. However, two out of their three opponents this season were ranked in the top 15 in the AP polls, which means that this team has been put to the test early on this year.

Ever since their game against the formerly No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineers, the program has paused activities due to COVID-19. The break in the action may have caused them to be more rusty heading into their first game since Dec. 2, which is detrimental considering their game against the second ranked Baylor Bears was postponed. That game may have determined whether or not this Zags team deserves the top spot.

The Hawkeyes do have depth on the bench, and they utilize it more than Gonzaga. They have more players scoring this season than Gonzaga, but that can be due to the beatdowns of the smaller basketball programs the Bulldogs faced earlier this season.

The games against the programs with major accolades to their name have been great performances, especially their ACC-Big Ten Challenge game against then No. 16 North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hawkeyes made 17 total threes on the night as they proceeded to beat Roy Williams’ squad, 93-80.

North Carolina contained Garza to 16 points, which is currently his season low. However, the guard play of Joe Wieskamp, CJ Fredrick and Jordan Bohannon rained down three pointers all over the Tar Heel defense, making all 17 threes for the team.

Iowa has been on a roll its past six games, scoring over 100 points per game. However, the Hawkeye defense only allowed about 69 points per game, which makes them a major threat to this Gonzaga team.

Throughout the game, the battle between Garza and Timme will be something to look forward to, with the possibility of Kispert taking over duties or double-teaming Garza with Timme on defense.

Whoever wins or loses, expect major changes in the top five section of the AP Top 25 polls next week.

 

Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at jrd6052@psu.edu.