Arkansas (4-1) vs. (11) Gonzaga (5-1)
Wednesday, November 27, 5 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400) -- Maui, Hawaii. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Arkansas 3-0, Gonzaga 4-0. Away Record: Arkansas 0-0, Gonzaga 0-0. Neutral Record: Arkansas 1-1, Gonzaga 1-1. Conference Record: Arkansas 0-0, Gonzaga 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks and the 11th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs will duke it out for fifth place in the Maui Invitational on Wednesday at the Lahaina Civic Center.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
The Razorbacks lost their first game of the season in the opening round of the Invitational, suffering an 85-77 setback to California, but they managed to redeem themselves in the consolation round with a convincing with over Minnesota on Tuesday, 87-73, to improve to 4-1 on the season. Arkansas actually trailed by five at the half, but it used an outstanding 60.7 percent shooting effort over the final 20 minutes to run past the Gophers. Pacing five players in double figures was Alandise Harris, who scored 15 points on 5-of-6 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line. Bobby Portis tallied 12 points and seven rebounds, Rashad Madden came off the bench to net 11, and Michael Qualls and Fred Gulley rounded out the strong effort with 10 points apiece.
Gonzaga, one of the favorites coming into the tournament after winning all four of its mainland games, was upset in the first round by Dayton (84-79), but managed to redeem itself in a big way in the consolation round with a 113-81 rout of tournament hosts Chaminade. As the final score suggests, the Bulldogs made shots almost at will against the Silverswords, as they drained nearly 70 percent of their field goal tries, including 13-of-23 from 3-point range. Six players finished in double figures, led by 19 apiece from Sam Dower and Gerard Coleman. Kevin Pangos and Kyle Dranginis netted 18 points each, while Pangos dished out seven assists. Gary Bell, Jr. tallied 16 points and six helpers, while Przemek Karnowski logged a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Arkansas has made a habit of posting strong scoring outputs in the early going, as it is shooting 47.4 percent from the field for 85.6 points per game, 12.8 points more than its allows on the other end. Qualls (16.0 ppg) is a well-rounded forward who averages 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while also draining 8-of-20 3-pointers. Harris (15.6 ppg) is hot on Qualls' tail for the team lead in scoring, while Anthlon Bell (12.2 ppg) does most of his damage from beyond the arc (14-of-33). The Hogs have a deep bench, with 11 players averaging at least 3.6 points per game.
The Bulldogs have scored points at an alarming rate during the first few weeks of the season, even more so than the Razorbacks, as they rank sixth in the nation in scoring (92.8 ppg), first in field goal percentage (.570) and eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.467). There's plenty of scoring opportunities to go around in the Zags' offense, but it's Pangos who takes advantage the most with 20.0 points per game to go along with 3.8 assists per contest. Bell, Jr. (15.3 ppg) has drained a team-high 20 3-pointers at a 58.8 percent success rate. Dower (14.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Karnowski (9.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) man the paint, and Coleman rounds out the balanced lineup with 10.2 points per game.
Even though Gonzaga's effort on Tuesday came against an inferior Chaminade club, it was nonetheless an impressive feat, and if it is knocking down shots anywhere near that success then it will be hard-pressed losing to anyone. Arkansas has some good athletes out on the perimeter to try and slow down the scoring barrage, but expect the Bulldogs' hot hand to continue in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Gonzaga 91, Arkansas 81
11/27 10:40:20 ET