Wichita State v Gonzaga

Gonzaga will have a tough non-conference schedule in 2014-15

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Gonzaga has become one of the most consistent college basketball programs in the country. With 16 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a perpetual spot near the top of the West Coast Conference, the Bulldogs are a threat to crack the top 25 nearly every season despite playing in a mid-major conference.

Scheduling marquee opponents, however, is always a challenge for programs like Gonzaga. It just doesn’t look for a power conference school to lose to a WCC school, even if that program is Gonzaga.

For the 2014-15 season, though, Gonzaga will have a very difficult schedule filled with really good opponents. According to a story from Matt Johnson in the Gonzaga Bulletin, the Zags will have a number of big games next season.

Johnson interviewed Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth and Roth revealed that the Bulldogs would have away games at Arizona and UCLA, a rematch with Memphis at home and a game with Washington State at Spokane Arena.

Gonzaga is also looking to finalize a home-and-home series with SMU that would begin next season and Mark Few’s ballclub is also participating in the Preseason NIT, which will give them some more opportunities to play some big games at a neutral site.

This is great news for the Zags as they’ll get a crack at some of the best Pac-12 schools in the country while also getting some potential home games against really good AAC programs like Memphis and SMU. If the Bulldogs can capitalize on some of those non-conference wins and play well in the WCC, it could lead to a desirable seed in next season’s NCAA Tournament.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons.¬†Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.