The Arizona Wildcats return from Las Vegas to face a couple of tough mid-majors this week. The Wildcats will host the Texas Southern Tigers at McKale Center on Wednesday, followed by the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Texas Southern is in year four of the Mike Davis era. The Tigers (4-2) recently had their four-game winning streak snapped with an 84-73 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday.
In the loss, junior guard Zach Lofton had 24 points and senior guard Dulani Robinson had 19 points. The back-court tandem is dangerous and can score in bunches. Robinson is a deep outside threat who went 5-of-8 on three point attempts against the Ragin’ Cajuns, and he drilled a fastbreak three-pointer at the buzzer to defeat La Salle two weeks ago.
Wednesday’s game against Arizona will be the Tigers’ midpoint of their current 16 game road trip. After the Wildcats, TSU will face Louisville, Cincinnati, LSU, TCU, Baylor, and three SWAC conference games before their home opener on January 14.
TSU’s overall schedule RPI is ranked No. 118 and the strength of schedule is ranked 278 despite the heavyweights. The move is the brainchild of Davis, the former Indiana head coach, in an effort to counterbalance the poor SWAC. Last year, the Tigers traveled to Syracuse, Baylor, and Mississippi State. They went 1-11 in non-conference but finished 17-13 and narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament.
The last time the two schools faced each other, UA beat TSU 93-72 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament behind Stanley Johnson’s 27 points.
Texas Southern University is located approximately two blocks from the University of Houston football stadium.
For the fourth straight year, Arizona will face No. 8 Gonzaga. This time, it comes as a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame event in Los Angeles. The Bulldogs are 6-0 and fresh off a 73-71 victory over No. 19 Iowa State to win the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.
Gonzaga is also in a furious stretch of a beefy non-conference schedule that includes the likes of Tennessee, Iowa State, and Washington. Earlier this season, the Zags took San Diego State “to the woodshed” in a 69-48 blowout and notched an impressive 77-72 win against Florida in Orlando.
Scoring points isn’t a challenge as Gonzaga hung 109 against Bryant University, 92 versus Utah Valley State, and a mind-boggling 122 in a West Georgia exhibition. Seven Bulldogs average more than eight points per game led by senior sharpshooting guard Jordan Mathews.
The Los Angeles native makes 46.2 percent of his three-point attempts and his 6-foot-4 frame means he will most likely matchup against Kadeem Allen. Plus, Mathews would be a Hogwarts Ravenclaw for his cerebral twitter musings and his constant fight against Eagle fans mistakenly trolling him as the same-named NFL receiver.
Fellow Ravenclaw guard Nigel Williams-Goss is the Zags’ primary ball handler and transferred from Washington. He went to Findlay Prep, and was a 2013 McDonald’s All-American with UA alums Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and future NBA No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins. Williams-Goss won the event’s three-point shooting contest.
Meanwhile, 7-foot-1 senior center Przemek Karnowski is a force inside. He leads the team in rebounding, and outweighs Dusan Ristic by 55 pounds.
Gonzaga is well-balanced and can win in multiple ways. This squad is athletic, long, and better than Michigan State. Arizona will have its hands full.
The Wildcats own a 6-1 record in the ever-growing all-time series that started with the heart stopping Arizona 2003 NCAA Tourney double-overtime win. Next year, the schools kick off another home-and-home series.