After dropping a game against Duke that they had every opportunity to win, Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns are back on the court today for a contest against the Gonzaga Bulldogs -- last season's runner up to the national championship. This PK80 tournament is pretty good, isn't it?
Coach Mark Few's team is coming off of their own disappointing defeat, falling in double overtime to the Florida Gators. It was a game where star 6'9 forward Johnathan Williams was electric, dropping 39 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the loss. For the Longhorns, defending Williams -- who can score from pretty much anywhere on the floor -- will be priority number one.
Much like Duke, Gonzaga has size at every position. While this team isn't quite as big as last season's iteration of the Zags, which paired two gigantic shot blocking seven-footers, Few's team is still very strong inside and his big men are much better defensively than Duke's.* If Kerwin Roach is able to again turn the game into his personal dunk contest, then he will have really accomplished something.
*To be fair, that is not a high bar.
In addition to Williams, 6'10 sophomore center Killian Tillie has been a strong inside so far this season after getting only limited minutes as a freshman. 6'11 Jacob Larsen and 6'8 Rui Hachimura will also capably rotate through the front court.
Along the perimeter, Few undoubtedly misses the departed Nigel Williams-Goss, but honestly it hasn't yet showed up in the numbers. 6'3 junior Josh Perkins has done well so far as the Bulldog point guard; it helps that Few's offensive approach doesn't really rely on a ball dominant guard to break things down on offense. 6'4 senior Silas Melson and 6'6 freshman Corey Kispert are both dangerous shooters. 6'5 freshman Zach Norvell is the first guard off the bench.
Folks, Gonzaga is really good (with an All-American candidate in the front court in Williams), and a win for Texas here would end up looking pretty nice on the resume. But that win won't come easy; kenpom.com favors Gonzaga by two points.
This is your game thread.