LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After a one-day hiatus, the Bulldogs are gearing up to play their third game in four days Sunday, facing Iowa State in the championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational.
The Zags defeated the Florida Gators on Friday night to earn the right to play the 21st-ranked Cyclones for the title.
As the case with Florida, this game will be another opportunity for the Zags to showcase their talent this season on a national level.
But the Cyclones took it to Miami two days ago and they present a unique challenge: they employ a four-guard lineup and their tallest starter (Darrell Bowie) is only 6 feet 8 inches tall. Their tallest player, Stuart Nezlek (6-feet-10), has only played in three of their five games for a total of seven minutes.
So the obvious question will be: how do you play a team that plays so short?
It will be a test and a problem that head coach Mark Few and his staff will have to figure out. Luckily this season the Zags have depth at all positions so the guards on the roster will get more work than they have all season in theory.
Zach Collins and Killian Tillie, the two freshman who have played so well this season together might find more time on the bench against a team like ISU.
Or maybe coach Few has a specific game plan in mind that is opposite of what many might believe him to do. Either way, it presents a difficult matchup for the Bulldogs.
The Cyclones talented freshman Solomon Young, who was averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds, is out for the next four weeks with a crack in his left hand.
The Zags are going for their third tournament win here in Orlando after winning both of the previous trips here for the Old Spice Classic.
Monte Morris is the Cyclones’ star player (preseason pick for Big 12 player of the year) and he only played 22 minutes against Miami on Friday night. Head coach Steve Prohm said he believes Morris will be extremely well-rested for the game. He averages over 16 points and the three other guards all average over 11 points.
Junior Silas Melson is the Zags best perimeter defender and he most likely will be matched up on him.
As for their tallest starter Bowie, Redshirt senior Przemek Karnowski likely will start the game on him. Five inches separate the two and more than 80 pounds. For comparison, the Zags’ Johnathan Williams (who is 6 feet 9 inches tall) weighs 10 pounds more than Bowie.
Karnowski does a great job moving his feet as a big man, but it will be interesting to see how he does for an extended period of time.
Next, the Bulldogs last matchup was a test for their offense against a good defensive team in Florida. But this game will be the reverse.
Iowa State is scoring 92.4 points per game, good for third in the country. The Zags on the other hand are 43rd in scoring defense at 64.2 points per game.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN with a tipoff time scheduled for 10:30 p.m. (PST).