(22) Gonzaga (14-2) at Portland (9-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 9, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chiles Center (4,852) -- Portland, Oregon.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Gonzaga 10-0, Portland 6-5. Away Record:
Gonzaga 1-0, Portland 1-2. Neutral Record: Gonzaga 3-2, Portland 2-0.
Conference Record: Gonzaga 4-0, Portland 1-3. Series Record: Gonzaga leads,
GAME NOTES: The 22nd-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs hope to keep their perfect record
in West Coast Conference play intact, as they hit the road to challenge the
Pilots from the University of Portland on Thursday night.
Gonzaga brings a 14-2 overall record into this matchup, and the team has won
each of its first four WCC bouts by double digits, all of which took place in
Spokane. The Pacific Tigers were the Zags' latest victims, as they were steam
rolled in what turned out to be an 86-64 final. Gonzaga, which is playing only
its second true road game of the campaign this evening, has not lost to a WCC
foe at home since 2011, and the team is an eye-popping 67-2 in WCC home games
since the McCarthey Athletic Center opened back in 2004.
Portland is at the other end of the success spectrum in terms of its
performance thus far against its West Coast Conference rivals, losing three of
its first four battles, including a 72-63 decision to visiting Saint Mary's-CA
last Saturday. The setback was the team's fifth in 11 home games this season,
and the Pilots have lost four of their last five in Portland.
Gonzaga owns a 91-65 lead in the long-standing rivalry with Portland, and the
Bulldogs have really dominated the Pilots under current head coach Mark Few,
going 27-1 during his tenure. Current Pilots' head man Eric Reveno is 0-14
against the Zags.
Gonzaga put forth a complete effort in its recent rout of Pacific, as the Zags
shot a blistering 69.2 percent from the field, which included a lights-out 10-
of-13 effort (.769) from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Tigers showed very
little teeth in connecting on only 31.7 percent of their total shots. Drew
Barham and Kevin Pangos paced the Bulldogs with 16 points apiece, while David
Stockton tallied 15 and Sam Dower came off the bench to contribute 13.
The Bulldogs are one of the more potent offensive teams in the nation,
averaging 82.9 ppg in hitting 52.0 of their field goal attempts (No. 3 in the
country), which includes a national-best 44.3 percent effort from beyond the
arc. The team is no slouch on defense either, yielding 66.6 ppg with foes
shooting just 39.1 percent from the floor overall, and 31.3 percent from long
range. Pangos is averaging a club-best 17.4 ppg, while combining with Stockton
to hand out 8.9 apg. Dower (12.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Gary Bell, Jr. (12.7 ppg, 3.2
rpg, 2.0 apg) and Przemek Karnowski (10.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.0 bpg), the former
two having missed some time recently due to injury, round out the unit's
double-digit scorers while excelling in other areas as well.
Poor shooting was the primary culprit in Portland's recent loss to Saint
Mary's, as the squad converted only 38 percent of its field goal attempts in
falling for the third time in four league bouts. Ryan Nicholas scored 12
points to lead the way, with moderate assistance coming from Alec Wintering
(11 points), Kevin Bailey (10 points) and Bobby Sharp (10 points). As for the
Gaels, they knocked down 45.7 percent of their total shots, while winning the
battle on the boards (35-28) and outscoring the Pilots in the paint (32-20).
Portland did manage an exceptional 22-of-26 effort at the charity stripe.
Production at the offensive end hasn't been Portland's problem this season, as
the team is putting up 78.3 ppg in draining 45.6 percent of its field goal
tries, which includes a 35.4 percent showing from 3-point land. The effort at
the defensive end however, yields 72.0 ppg, with the opposition using the
long-range shot to maximum effectiveness by nailing nearly seven treys per
game at a 39.2 percent clip. Bailey leads the club with 17.1 ppg, while
Nicholas (13.0 ppg) and Thomas van der Mars (12.9 ppg) join him in double
figures. Nicholas is close to averaging a double-double as he also pulls down
9.3 rpg, while van der Mars comes up with 6.9 caroms per contest in helping
the Pilots to a +3.2 rebounding margin.
The Bulldogs are clearly the class of the WCC, as they have been for a number
of years now, but if they lose focus they can certainly stumble against a team
of Portland's ilk -- and by that, we mean a squad that can score. That said,
expect Gonzaga to remain undefeated in conference play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Gonzaga 80, Portland 71
01/09 10:33:25 ET
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