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Gonzaga Basketball: Do the Zags Have the Best Frontcourt in the Nation?

SPOKANE, WA - JANUARY 24:  Kelly Olynyk #13 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs grabs a rebound during the game against the BYU Cougars at McCarthey Athletic Center on January 24, 2013 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
William Mancebo/Getty Images
Hayden DeitrickFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2013

Gonzaga basketball registered an emphatic win over the BYU Cougars on Thursday night.

The Bulldogs won the night with a 83-63 win, and while the final score of this statement game was impressive, even more impressive was the performance put on by Gonzaga’s frontcourt.

Power forward Elias Harris and center Kelly Olynyk combined for 51 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

Harris, a senior out of Speyer, Germany, showed incredible strength to finish multiple and-one’s around the basket.  His ability to overpower defenders has caused matchup problems all season long.

Olynyk has quickly become one of the most exciting players in all of college basketball.  Thursday night, he completed a rare perfect game in that he shot 9-for-9 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free-throw line while pulling down nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.

The big question coming in to this game was whether or not Gonzaga could slow BYU’s scoring combo of Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws.

While Brandon Davies scored 14 points in 29 minutes, Gonzaga was able to hold Tyler Haws, who normally averages 21.6 PPG, to just one point in 33 minutes.

Stifled. 

What makes Gonzaga’s frontcourt so dangerous is its depth. Behind Olynyk and Harris are two players in Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski that could start on almost any team in the country.

Dower, a redshirt junior, recently showed his proficiency as a spot-up shooter in Gonzaga’s loss to Butler.  He ended the game with 20 points, and while Gonzaga came up a bit short, they benefited greatly from the different look Dower was able to provide.

Karnowski, a freshman out of Poland, is a 7’1” tank of a center.  While he is still a raw talent, his ability and potential are astronomical.  It is a testament to Gonzaga’s talented frontcourt that they can nurture him as he learns to play at the college level.

Gonzaga is in the running to be the best frontcourt in the nation, and you have to think that is going to be a great advantage in the NCAA Tournament this season.

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