Gonzaga basketball: Can the Zags match up with the Aggies front-court?

New Mexico State

Sim Bhullar (USA Today Sports Images)

Coming off a season where Gonzaga had arguably the best front-court in the country, and a team that currently has two 7- footers on their roster, most fans would say they have a decent size front-court. The Zags do, but New Mexico State does as well which could give the Bulldogs some trouble.

Gonzaga hosts the Aggies on Saturday and might run into some trouble matching up with their big men. New Mexico State has the tallest player in college basketball Sim Bhullar as well as two 6-foot-10 players in Tshilidzi Nephawe and Renaldo Dixon. Bhullar, is a whopping 7-foot-5, 360 pounds, and averages close to 10 points a game. While Nephawe and Dixon average 9.1 and 6.7 points per game respectively.

Bhullar, a sophomore has the size advantage over any of his opponents, and could give the Zags some issues.

Gonzaga will likely start with Przemek Karnowski on Bhullar, but with his foul problems thus far on the season, Karnowski must play conservative to stay on the floor. Karnowski has been doing a better job as of late of with his foul situation, but covering a guy of that size is going to be difficult.

Karnowski needs to realize that his importance on the court is too important to commit stupid fouls. If Buhllar gets a few easy baskets, that is ok. If, Karnowski is in foul trouble, the Zags will be in a world of trouble and could have no one inside to stop him, or the other big men.

I don’t expect Sam Dower Jr. to matchup up with him too much because there is a distinct size advantage, and New Mexico State also has two 6-foot-10 players that he has to worry about. Freshman center Ryan Edwards who has seen limited action will most likely be thrown into the fire.

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Edwards is a big body at 7-foot-1 300 pounds, and could play some significant minutes. He is finally getting healthy after missing the first part of the season due to tonsillitis. The problem is, Edwards is not tested and this could be hard matchup for him.

Edwards played in the last few minutes of Gonzaga’s win over Coppin State and had 5 points in 6 minutes of action. He looks like he could provide the must needed front-court depth that Gonzaga needs, but as a true freshman it is going to take time.

Thus far on the season, Gonzaga has shown they lack the depth inside, and New Mexico State will try to exploit that. The bigs of Gonzaga are more talented than the New Mexico State front line, but they have the depth.

Gonzaga will need a solid day out of the guards, and a team effort on the defensive end. If Gonzaga can keep Bhullar out of the paint, and keep the fouls limited, then Gonzaga should not have a problem with the Aggies.

This will be another test for the Zags and should hopefully give Karnowski and Edwards the experience of facing bigger bodies. New Mexico State is no team to look past, and Gonzaga should be ready for a good game.

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