No. 7 Gonzaga (20-2, 7-0) visits San Diego (11-11, 4-3) Saturday at 8:00 p.m. in San Diego. The game takes place in the Jenny Craig Pavilion, and will be televised on ESPNU.
The Stats - On the season San Diego is the second best defensive team in the West Coast Conference to Gonzaga, allowing 64.7 points per game. That's due in part to their 'D' around the perimeter. The Zags go from torching the worst team in WCC play at defending the three, to the best. League foes have only hit 27 of 112 attempts agains the Toreros. GU hit 13 Thursday against Loyola Marymount. One thing USD doesn't do particularly well is take care of the ball. They rank 256th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at .82. They've had at least 13 turnovers in seven straight games, and 11 or more in 12 consecutive.
The Stars - San Diego doesn't quite have the firepower that the Zags boast. Six-foot guard Johnny Dee averages 14.4 points, and is their only player above the double-digit plateau in WCC games at 12.7. Dee has had at least a share of USD's high-scoring honors in 14 of their 22 games. He is just shy of 40 percent from three, and is the best free throw shooter in the conference at 90 percent. As for the visitors, they showed how difficult it can be to guess where their scoring will come from on Thursday. Gary Bell Jr. broke out of a slump, hitting five threes in the first half to reach double digits for the first time in six games. Meanwhile, Drew Barham exploded for 13 points. USD's defense around the arc should keep from another three-point assault. While the Toreros do have five players between 6'9" and 6'11", few teams have had much success slowing down Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. They combined for just 23 at LMU simply because the perimeter guys had the game in control. It will be awfully tough for USD to contain Kevin Pangos and company, while limiting GU's efficient duo down low.
The Storylines - The biggest connection between the programs will stroll the sideline for San Diego. Bill Grier spent 16 years as an assistant at GU, the last eight under Mark Few. Grier has only beaten his former team once, when USD topped Gonzaga in the 2008 Tournament championship. Gonzaga has claimed the other 10 meetings since Grier took over in 2007. Overall, the Bulldogs have grabbed victories in 30 of their last 32 showdowns, including 24 straight in the regular season. The Toreros have a tall task ahead of them if they hope to prove their 4-0 WCC start wasn't a fluke, and avoid a fourth straight loss Saturday.