|High-scoring No. 3 Gonzaga hosts Texas A&M|
While both Gonzaga and Texas A&M have dealt with early-season injuries, the Bulldogs haven't missed a beat.
Not so for the Aggies.
Texas A&M (1-1) blew a 14-point, early-second-half lead and lost at UC Irvine 74-73 on Friday.
The No. 3 Zags (2-0), who host the Aggies on Thursday in Spokane, Wash., have averaged 112 points in two blowouts.
Gonzaga is coming off a 104-67 rout of Texas Southern, despite some early foul trouble and missing junior Killian Tillie, who is out for another six weeks or so with a stress fracture in his ankle.
Rui Hachimura (two early fouls), who scored 33 in the team's opener, and Zach Norvell Jr. (three fouls), both made their way to the bench midway through the first half.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few simply turned to others, namely power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.
"Anytime starters go down, or key pieces go down, somebody else can step up and make plays, like tonight showed," Norvell told the (Spokane) Spokesman-Review. "We're probably not the deepest team, but we have a lot of talent in this locker room."
Added point guard Josh Perkins: "Brandon Clarke, he's something, right? Blocking every shot, running 40 miles an hour down the court."
Clarke will pose a problem for the Aggies, who come in with their own roster issues.
They could be without guard Admon Gilder, who is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, and his backcourt mate Wendell Mitchell might be sidelined as well. Neither played in the Aggies' first two games.
"We're not going to make a decision until we have a good feel for how he is in shootaround tomorrow," Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said of Gilder's status after Wednesday's practice, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Without the two guards, the Aggies are just 14 of 66 from 3-point range this season.
"It's been the craziest thing so far this year with both of those guys," Kennedy added. "It's going to be day-to-day. That's how it's been for the last three weeks.
"We're still trying to figure out our team," Kennedy said. "We may have to play big if we don't have Chuck (Mitchell) and Admon. May play bigger with our bigger lineup and that's something we haven't done a whole lot until recently."
The Zags, who are shooting better than 55 percent from the field and almost 84 percent from the free-throw line, averaged 24 assists, eight steals and six blocks in their first two games.
Their athleticism worries Kennedy.
"(The Bulldogs) play small, but their small guys actually have pretty good size," Kennedy said. "Very athletic and have very good physicality."
This is the first of three games in the Pacific Northwest for the Aggies. They head to Vancouver to face Minnesota (Sunday) and Washington (Tuesday).
Gonzaga already has one win over Texas A&M this week.
Drew Timme, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Richardson, Texas, chose Gonzaga over the Aggies, Illinois and Alabama, strengthening any already impressive Bulldogs 2019 recruiting class. Timme, ranked the 29th best prospect on Rivals.com's ratings and No. 59 in ESPN's top 100, averaged 27.7 points, 17.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a junior at J.J. Pierce High School.
He'll join 6-8 power forward Anton Watson, point guard Brock Ravet and 6-7 Lithuanian forward Martynas Arlauskas on what was the No. 25 recruiting class, according to ESPN's rankings, prior to Timme's commitment.