No. 2 Gonzaga (28-2, 15-0) hosts Portland (11-19, 4-11) Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the McCarthey Athletic Center. The game will be televised by Root Sports.
The Stats - The Pilots have had a tough time putting up points. Portland ranks eighth in WCC games with 59.9 per game. That number has risen recently thanks to Eric Reveno's team scoring 63 or more in each of their last six games, after failing to top 50 in four of their first five in the WCC. Portland has been outscored by an average of 10.3 points in their 15 league games (including a 71-49 loss to the Zags), and now face a GU team that has beaten WCC squads at an 18.8 point clip. When the teams met on January 17th the Bulldogs had a 36-18 edge in the paint, while holding the Pilots to 3-for-10 shooting from deep. That last figure isn't a fluke. Portland has hit the fewest threes of any WCC team in conference games this year (61) and has connected on just 33 percent of its tries. Adding to the Pilots' woes were 17 turnovers against GU that led to 30 Bulldog points.
The Stars - Gonzaga did to Ryan Nicholas what they've done to many teams' top scorer this year, and that's keep them from producing like a first option is expected to. The Gonzaga Prep grad had seven points, eight rebounds and four turnovers in their first meeting. On the year Nicholas paces the Pilots at 12.9 points and 8.7 rebounds, to go with a team-best 29 steals. At 37 percent he's also their most efficient three-point shooter. Kevin Bailey picked up some of the slack when they hosted the Zags, with 16 points on on 7-for-9 shooting. The six-foot-five-inch wing is averaging 11.4 a game. When Gonzaga traveled to Portland Kelly Olynyk put together one of his most efficient games, hitting eight of his nine attempts for 21 points. The Bulldogs also caught fire from deep, going 8-for-15. Kevin Pangos was among the beneficiaries with four threes and 14 points. The Canadian duo could very well set the tone again for the Zags, but it wouldn't be a shock to see them take a back seat. Saturday is senior day, and with it the final appearance in the McCarthey Athletic Center for Guy Landri Edi, Elias Harris and Mike Hart. If Gonzaga is able to race out to a comfortable lead players may try to get those three some extra touches. With Harris being the most explosive of the group, he could be due for a big finale in Spokane.
The Storylines - Gonzaga's 70-65 win over BYU sealed the WCC regular season title, and with it the top seed into the conference tournament. Portland is trying to avoid the 8/9 game next Wednesday against Loyola Marymount. They're currently tied with Pepperdine for seventh place at 4-11. Gonzaga has claimed the teams' last 19 meetings, with the Pilots last victory coming during the 2002-2003 season in Spokane. Saturday's game doesn't have any significant ramifications this year for the Zags as far as the WCC goes, but a loss will take them out of play for a possible first ever No. 1 national ranking (which is seeming more and more likely following Duke's loss at Virginia). Gonzaga is also trying to run the table during the WCC regular season for the fourth time under Mark Few. The Bulldogs completed the feat in 2004, 2006 and 2009. This would be their first time doing so since the WCC expanded to nine teams and 16 league games.