Auburn Hills — The St. Mary's Gaels said they will be plenty rested for their second-round NCAA Tournament game.
The Gaels defeated Middle Tennessee State, 67-54, in a play-in game Tuesday night and said they will be fresh for their Thursday matchup at The Palace of Auburn Hills against No. 6 seed Memphis.
"I think you get the rust off," St. Mary's senior Matthew Dellavedova said of playing the play-in game. "Hopefully we can get a good start (against Memphis)."
St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett said he's looking at already playing Tuesday as an advantage for his No. 11-seeded Gaels.
"It's whatever you make it," Bennett said at a Wednesday news conference. "We're going to try to make it an advantage. I do like this about it -- we hadn't played in a week. It would have been 10 days since we played in our conference tournament, so playing Tuesday shortened that up a little it, and I thought we had good practices during the week, and I thought we played well (against MTSU)."
The Gaels will be without starting point guard Jorden Paige, who suffered a knee injury in the West Coast Conference final against Gonzaga when he landed awkwardly.
"We're not sure the extent of his knee injury," Bennett said. "I doubt he will play this week."
Freshman Jordan Giusti, a walk-on who will be on scholarship next season, will start for the second straight game.
"Starting is new, but it wasn't really that big a change — I've started in the second half before," Giusti said.
While Giusti is somewhat of an unknown, Dellavedova is a known commodity.
The 6-foot-4 senior guard from Australia is St. Mary's best player and is coming off a 22-point performance against Middle Tennessee State. He is the Gaels' all-time leader in career points (1,923), assists (761), 3-point baskets (287) and 3-point attempts (757).
Dellavedova leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.0 points, and has 216 assists.
"Matt takes care of so many things for us," Bennett said. "He calms everything down. Put (the ball) in his hands, he's going to get everybody where they're supposed to be. It's hard to speed Matt up. It's hard to get him out of sorts."
Bennett said Memphis reminds him a bit of Middle Tennessee.
"But a bigger version," Bennett said.
Memphis is ranked fourth nationally in assists, averaging 17.2 a game, and is ranked 16th in field goal percentage (47.9 percent).
"The thing that's hardest to scout on them, they can steal the ball," Bennett said. "They're hard to guard."