Bouldin hopes to play Saturday
By Nicholas K. Geranios
SPOKANE, Wash. ó It’s not clear whether leading scorer Matt Bouldin will be recovered enough from a head injury to play when No. 15 Gonzaga faces No. 7 Duke in Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Bouldin, who averages nearly 17 points per game, bumped heads with Augustana’s Troy Rorer in the first half of their game on Dec. 9. He sat out the rest of that game and also the game against Davidson on Dec. 12.
“It really gets down to as long as I’m feeling better, I’m sure I’ll be able to go,” Bouldin said.
Gonzaga (8-2) will need him against the prolific offense of Duke (8-1), which is playing its annual game in the Garden. Bouldin is one of only a handful of veterans on a young Gonzaga team and is the only player left who played on the team that lost to Duke in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 21, 2006.
He had four points, four rebounds and four assists in that game.
“Not many programs have a chance to play with Duke,” coach Mark Few said. “We welcome that, and now we have to play probably close to great to be able to get it done.”
The Zags have been playing well in what had been expected to be a rebuilding year, with wins over Wisconsin, No. 25 Cincinnati and Washington State. Their losses are to No. 12 Michigan State and Wake Forest by tiny margins.
“They are the best of the best,” Few said of Duke. “They are a really, really smart team that’s incredibly skilled.”
Senior Jon Scheyer leads a veteran Duke team with 18 points and 5.7 assists per game. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith each average 16 per game.
The Blue Devils play a home game at Madison Square Garden each year, and have a large following in the New York City area.
“If you go to the East Coast, you have to deal with Duke fans,” Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre said.
Duke and Gonzaga are both small private schools that have enjoyed amazing success on opposite coasts. Duke’s 291 wins in this decade are tops in the nation. Gonzaga’s 264 are third, after Kansas’ 282.