No. 8 Gonzaga hopes Tillie can return vs. North Dakota

Eighth-ranked Gonzaga won its first two games by an average of 40.5 points without its projected best player on the floor.

There remains no official determination on whether senior forward Killian Tillie will make his season debut on Tuesday when the Bulldogs host North Dakota in Spokane, Wash.

Tillie underwent knee surgery 5 1/2 weeks ago with an expectation that he would be available at the start of the regular season. That didn't happen, but he did participate in warmups prior to Saturday's 110-60 trouncing of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

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But the timing of Tillie's return is even a mystery to him.

"I actually don't know," Tillie told reporters. "It's going to depend on how my knee reacts, but it's feeling all right. I just have to play through it and try and see how much I can do."

Tillie's presence would add more pop to a team that averaged 102.5 points in season-opening wins over Alabama State (95-64) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Gonzaga shot 60 percent from the field and made 19 of 43 3-point attempts in the two easy triumphs. The Bulldogs outrebounded the two foes by an average of 15 while forcing 19 turnovers per game.

Junior wing Corey Kispert was the star of the opening win against Alabama State while pouring in a career-high 28 points. Kispert was 10 of 13 from the field, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

Sophomore forward Filip Petrusev led the way against Pine Bluff with a career-high 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

Petrusev is averaging a team-best 20.0 points while making 14 of 19 shots. Kispert is averaging 19 points as six Bulldogs are averaging at least 9.5 points per game.

Senior point guard Ryan Woolridge (12.5 points, 7.5 assists) sees how potent the attack is without Tillie and only imagines how much more the offense can crank up.

"It makes it a whole lot easier," Woolridge said of the production. "I don't have to rely on forcing it into the paint and creating something for other guards. You can dump it down to them (inside) and know you're going to get an assist."

Gonzaga will be seeking its 25th consecutive home win when it when faces North Dakota.

The Fighting Hawks cruised in their opener by beating Division III Crown College (Minn.) 86-61 on Thursday.

Redshirt freshman guard De'Sean Allen-Eikens recorded 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists in his first game since missing last season with a broken leg. Meanwhile, sophomore forward Filip Rebraca contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds.

The downside in the eyes of first-year coach Paul Sather was that his squad committed 19 turnovers. He knows another such effort against the Bulldogs will make for a long night.

"If we turn the ball over 19 times against Gonzaga, times that by two ...," Sather told reporters. "They're just such a great transition team but moving forward right now is more about us than our opponent, but we also got to recognize who our opponent is and understand that taking care of the basketball is going to be the important thing to do."

The Fighting Hawks are 0-5 all-time against the Bulldogs but put up a mighty fight during a visit to Spokane during the 2017-18 season before falling 89-83 in overtime.

--Field Level Media

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