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Gonzaga - Basketball

Zags' freshmen need to pull their weight

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Elias Harris scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Zags (Photo: SWX) Elias Harris scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Zags (Photo: SWX)

Gonzaga gets a stiff early season test, as they play No. 2 Michigan State at East Lansing Tuesday night in one of ESPN’s featured games in their College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

This will be the first time the Zags and Spartans have played each other since the epic showdown at the Maui Invitational in 2005.  That was the game in which Adam Morrison led the Zags to a triple overtime 109-106 victory.

 Up next for Gonzaga ...

Michigan St.

Tues., Nov. 17
5 p.m. (PT)

This year it’s a different story for Gonzaga, which beat up visiting Mississippi Valley State 92-74 over the weekend. The Zags will need better play out of their younger players to have any hopes of upsetting the Spartans this year.

The experienced core of Matt Bouldin, Robert Sacre and Steven Gray totaled 55 points and 20 rebounds against MVSU.  But several of the seven players who saw action for the first time in their college careers struggled to produce results.

Freshman forward Elias Harris was probably the most solid among the newcomers, making his first five shots from the field.  He finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. The rest of the freshman got considerable playing time but didn’t have much to show for it on the scoring sheet.

“This is a young team,” said head coach Mark Few. “And so the guys are going to go through stretches where they can play well, and they can do some things.  And then they’re going to go through some stretches where they aren’t going to play very well.  You know, I think that’s what we saw [Saturday night] a little bit.  We mixed some of those young guys in there and they didn’t function too well and we put out main group in there and they kind of built it back up a little bit.  Hopefully we can get those guys more consistent.”

“At the end of the day it’s just basketball,” said Mangisto Arop after the game.  “You just have to go in there and do what you do, you know?  Everyone as a team doing their part – and just play basketball.”

Bouldin is the only starter back from the Zags’ Sweet 16 team last season.  Michigan State returns 12 letter winners from last year’s team, and many believe they’ll make it all the way to the Final Four again this season.

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