Some bad news came out on Tuesday evening prior to GCU playing its final non-conference game against Idaho State.
Two account, including WAC Hoops Digest contributor Chelsea Mendelson, reported that GCU big man Yvan Ouedraogo is out indefinitely with a fractured wrist.
— Chelsea Mendelson (@Chelsea__Mend) December 21, 2022
— Grand Canyon Hoops (@HoopsGCU) December 21, 2022
And in their first game without their starting big man, the Lopes struggled.
Rayshon Harrison had a team-high 18 points and Gabe McGlothan had 14 points and 11 rebounds as GCU escaped Idaho State’s upset bid, 68-66, on Tuesday night at GCU Arena.
Fortunately, for the Lopes, Gabe McGlothan cleaned up on the boards. Especially on the offensive side. In fact, it was McGlothan’s offensive board with six second remaining that sealed the GCU win.
Rotations were much different for GCU on Wednesday night. Aidan Igiehon started in place of the injured Yvan Ouedraogo. And at times it worked. Other times it didn’t. There were multiple possessions in the second half where Igiehon and McGlothan battled for a defensive rebound. And neither could corral it so Idaho State got an extra possession.
Game-sealing rebound ☑️
Player of the Game ☑️
— Grand Canyon Men’s Basketball (@GCU_MBB) December 21, 2022
At times, Bryce Drew put four guards and McGlothan on the floor. And GCU really didn’t get much production out of its bench. Chance McMillian, Kobe Knox and Noah Baumann combined for 15 points. And Walt Ellis hit a 3-pointer.
Rayshon Harrison, Jovan Blacksher Jr. and Gabe McGlothan played 30-plus minutes. And they had to in order for GCU to avoid an upset bid.
Harrison was really good down the stretch. The Presbyterian transfer hit a driving layup and then an awkward jumper with 49 seconds to play that gave the Lopes a 67-63 lead.
GCU won the rebounding battle, 42-30. The Lopes also had 19 offensive boards. GCU had a 44-22 advantage in points in the paint. And the Lopes also had 25 second-chance points.
Yet, Idaho State had an answer every time GCU looked to possibly pull away. Ray Harrison’s free throws with 3:09 to play made it a 4-point ball game. But Brock Mackenzie hit back-to-back jumpers to tie the game at 63. With GCU leading 67-63 after a Ray Harrison layup, Jay Nagle knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a 1-point game.
And even after Josh Baker made 1-of-2 free throws to make it 68-66, Idaho State still got a decent look for the possible game-winning shot. It didn’t hit iron and GCU escaped.
GCU Has to Figure Some Things Out
Following an 83-73 overtime win over Pepperdine on Saturday, it seemed like GCU had arrived. The offense finally seemed to figure things out. And the Lopes got back in the win column against a good Pepperdine squad.
But, without their starting big man in Yvan Ouedraogo, the Lopes have to figure some things out.
Can Aiden Igiehon fill that role now as a starter? Who will come off the bench to spell Igiehon? Will Bryce Drew be forced to use more 4-guard lineups? There are a lot of question marks for the preseason favorites to win the WAC.
Jovan Blacksher is also not 100 percent healthy. Blacksher has injured both his ankles in games against Alcorn State and Pepperdine. So, the preseason WAC Player of the Year is laboring a bit. Rayshon Harrison has been really good as he is averaging over 17 points per game in his last six contests.
Gabe McGlothan has been the leader in the clubhouse with back-to-back double doubles.
So, what will the Lopes do? WAC play begins on Dec. 29 when GCU hosts California Baptist. Considering it is still Winter break, the Havocs may not be as rowdy. And on Tuesday night, Idaho State took advantage of that situation.
The Lopes have one week to figure it all out.