Zag Hot File: Loyola Marymount
Posted on January 30, 2013 at 5:16 PM
Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 10:36 PM
No. 7 Gonzaga (19-2, 6-0) visits Loyola Marymount (8-12, 1-6) Thursday for an 8:00 p.m. tip-off at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
The Stats - The Lions enter Thursday's contest ranked 270th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 70.6 points per game. Gonzaga has faced three teams below LMU in that category - South Dakota, Southern Utah and Campbell - and had two of their highest scoring outings in those games (103 vs. SUU and 96 vs. S. Dakota). The Zags enter the week averaging 78.9 a game, good enough for 8th in the country. Their field goal percentage ranks 2nd at 51.1. GU hasn't put on many three-point exhibitions, but they could have an opportunity against LMU. Max Good's squad ranks 325th out of 345 schools in defending the three, allowing opponents to make nearly 38 percent of their tries.
The Stars - Junior guard Anthony Ireland is the catalyst for LMU. Ireland is 15th in the nation at 20 points per game, but has had his average drop to 17.4 in West Coast Conference games. In their last two appearances Loyola Marymount's top scorer has gone just 8-for-29 for a total of 27 points. Given GU's recent trend of shutting down the opposition's top scorer, Ireland could be in for another tough night. The 5-foot-10-inch guard does more than just light up the scoreboard though. On top of leading the Lions in three-pointers made (35), he is also tops in assists (81), and steals (34), while sitting third in rebounds per game (5.2). Fortunately for GU, the Lions have one of the smaller front lines they have seen this season. LMU has just one player over 6-feet-7-inches getting regular minutes. That could make for a productive night for Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. But if GU races out to a big first half lead like they have in recent games there are others that could put up big numbers. Sam Dower isn't far removed from a 20-point outing, while Przemek Karnowski could be in store for heavier minutes after getting just 9.3 in their first six conference games. Also, with LMU allowing teams to light it up from long range, Kevin Pangos could let off a barrage like he did at Portland.
The Storylines - This is another one of those WCC series that Gonzaga has dominated in recent years. While Mark Few's guys have only won five in a row, their last 37 matchups have resulted in 34 Bulldog victories. In his career, Few has a 26-3 mark against the Lions. Loyola Marymount has been solid against ranked teams in recent years, going 4-4 against their last eight. A visit from the No. 7 Zags marks the highest-ranked opponent to enter Gersten Pavilion since the No. 5 Zags made the trip in 2006. The Lions enter the meeting riding a four game skid, with losses in six of their last seven. That stretch has them tied for last place with Portland, and would make a LMU win as big an upset as possible this year in the West Coast Conference.