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Gonzaga-USF key matchup: Forward Jonathan Mogbo a force on offense, defense

Feb. 28—SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco's Jonathan Mogbo has played his way into consideration for West Coast Conference player, newcomer and defender of the year awards.

Gonzaga fifth-year senior forward Anton Watson is in the conversation for conference player and defender of the year. GU junior forward Graham Ike, a transfer from Wyoming, is a candidate for player and newcomer of the year.

Those three players figure to see a lot of each other Thursday at the Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors' home arena. They certainly did Jan. 25 when the Zags outlasted the Dons 77-72 at McCarthey Athletic Center.

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Mogbo averages 14.9 points and a WCC-leading 10.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 66.2% from the field (third nationally). His 14 double-doubles are tied for 12th nationally.

He's been a huge addition for the Dons after posting modest numbers in his lone season at Missouri State last year (8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists). USF relies on the athletic Mogbo, who spent his first two years at junior colleges, at both ends of the court.

Mogbo was 5-9 as a high school freshman and sprouted to 6-7 by his senior season. He maintained his ball-handling and passing ability after the growth spurt.

Mogbo was quiet in the scoring column against GU last month. He was 4 of 6 from the field and scored eight points, but he added 11 rebounds and four assists. He averages 3.4 assists per game.

In USF's two losses to Saint Mary's, Mogbo averaged just 8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

The Dons beat Gonzaga on the glass 28-26 and Mogbo had three of the team's 13 offensive boards, leading to a 15-5 advantage in second-chance points. Still, Watson and Ike combined for 32 of their 37 points in the second half to guide GU to a victory.

Ike got the starting assignment on Mogbo in Spokane and will likely get the nod again . Ben Gregg defended Mogbo for a big chunk of the first half with Watson and Ike on the bench with foul trouble. Watson no doubt will spend time defending Mogbo.

Mogbo has averaged just 10 points in the past three games. He scored 14 points but fouled out in 18 minutes against Pepperdine last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ike has five consecutive games with at least 20 points and eight of the last 10. Watson is averaging 15.1 points in conference and has a streak of 13 straight games scoring in double digits.