30 second game guide
Bring’em Out: No. 17 Gonzaga 12-3 (1-0 WCC) vs. Saint Mary’s College 15-2 (2-0 WCC) at McKeon Pavilion Thursday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
Watch for: The battle of the two big men. GU’s Robert Sacre and SMC’s Omar Samhan stand alone as the dominant inside forces in the WCC. Samhan has really picked up the slack left by the departure of Patty Mills (Trail Blazers) and Diamon Simpson. The Gaels’ 6’11”, 265 lb senior is averaging 20.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. He’ll be hard pressed to put up those numbers Thursday on Sacre, provided the Zags’ 7’0” center doesn’t get into foul trouble.
Fear: The Gaels’ 3-point shooting. I know we mentioned this as something for GU to fear in the Portland game guide (the Pilots went 7/19 from 3-point land) and it will be an even bigger threat against Saint Mary’s. The Gaels are leading the WCC in 3-pt field goal percentage (41%) and are 12th in the country, providing a formidable inside-out challenge for any opponent, which is why they’re 15-2. For the Bulldogs to come away from Moraga with a win, they’ll have to contain Samhan and contest the deep ball all night.
Respect: Saint Mary’s home-court advantage. The Zags have lost three of the last five meetings at McKeon Pavilion. Last season GU escaped with a 72-70 win and lost the previous two match-ups in Moraga. It’s become the toughest place for the Bulldogs to play since the recent demise of Pepperdine. No matter what the Gaels’ record is, Gonzaga can count on a down-to-the-wire finish. Expect nothing less on Thursday.
Random Stuff: The Gaels are 8-1 at home this season (one loss came to Vanderbilt, 72-70). Saint Mary’s ranks in the top-20 in the NCAA in scoring (18th), FG % (13th), 3-pt % (12th), 3-pt made (T-9th), and free throw % (2nd).