Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 5th 2023

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Gonzaga thrived the past three seasons with the superstar-led attack featuring Drew Timme.

Now the No. 7 Bulldogs are prospering behind a balanced approach that includes five players averaging from 11.6 to 14.7 points per game.

Gonzaga (6-1) looks to continue the pattern on Tuesday night when it faces Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-5) in Spokane, Wash.

The Bulldogs haven’t had a 20-point scorer in four of their seven games. Sharing the ball was key as Gonzaga had six players score in double digits in Saturday’s 89-76 victory over Southern California in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Ryan Nembhard and Dusty Stromer led the Zags with 15 points apiece. It was a season high for Stromer, who made four 3-pointers while raising his scoring average to 7.0 per game.

“We all love to see each other score and we all love to see each other make plays,” Stromer said. “I think that’s what makes this place (Gonzaga) so special. We’re all happy for each other on the court. Defensively, it’s tough to guard us.”

Graham Ike had 14 points and 10 rebounds and backup Ben Gregg also scored 14, his season best, against the Trojans. Reserve Braden Huff added 12 points and Nolan Hickman had 10.

Bulldogs coach Mark Few appreciated Huff’s and Gregg’s contributions off the bench.

“They were huge,” Few said. “Obviously, Braden gave us great minutes and just great shot-making in that first half. Ben just gave us a lift overall with his energy and his toughness.”

Said Gregg: “I bet it’s probably hard for teams to see our starting bigs go out and me and Braden go in, because we kind of do different things than the starters do.”

Leading scorer Anton Watson had just nine points against USC to drop his season average to 14.7. Ike is averaging 13.4 points, Nembhard is at 13.3, Hickman contributes 13 per game and Huff is averaging 11.6.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff is playing the second contest of four straight on the road. The Golden Lions lost the first, 107-86 at Oklahoma on Thursday.

Following the Gonzaga matchup, Pine Bluff visits No. 5 UConn on Saturday and South Florida on Dec. 12.

Golden Lions reserve forward Ismael Plet said the team isn’t viewing Gonzaga and UConn as unbeatable foes.

“I don’t look at us as the underdogs,” Plet told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “I think we can compete with anybody due to our scoring ability and our length and our style and our skill and our size. So, if you guard the ball well, I think we can beat anybody in the country.”

Kylen Milton is shooting 60.8 percent from the field while scoring a team-best 21.2 points per game. Rashad Williams is averaging 18.3, followed by Joe French (15.4) and Lonnell Martin Jr. (10.7).

Oklahoma isn’t the only major college foe that provided trouble for the Golden Lions. Pine Bluff lost 101-79 at Missouri in its season opener and 86-67 at Minnesota on Nov. 21.

Golden Lions coach Solomon Bozeman said playing tough teams is valuable for his program.

“As long as we compete and get better each and every game, I’ll be excited about the outcome,” Bozeman said. “This team, we’re going to be a special team once we put it all together. We’re not even close to putting it all together. We just want to continue to compete and get better each and every game.”

This will be the third meeting between the teams with Gonzaga winning each of the first two by 50 points.

The Bulldogs recorded a 92-42 victory on Nov. 29, 2001 and rolled to a 110-60 win on Nov. 9, 2019.

–Field Level Media

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