No. 2 Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0) visits BYU (20-9, 9-5) Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
The Stats - Gonzaga (77.5) goes into Provo with a slight scoring edge over BYU (77) in West Coast Conference games. They also are the top two teams in field goal percentage (50.1 percent to 48.1 percent), although it didn't show when BYU came to Spokane. The Zags held Dave Rose's team to 8-for-31 shooting in the first half, and a 4-for-17 performance from deep in the game. Gonzaga's upper hand down low was also evident, outscoring the Cougars 42-28 in the paint while holding a 37-29 advantage on the boards.
The Stars - Six-foot-seven-inch forward Josh Sharp had the most efficient performance for BYU when the teams met on January 24th. He and fellow-post Brandon Davies both finished with 14 points. However, Davies' came on 5-for-13 shooting with four turnovers. Sharp hit five of his six attempts. Neither's contributions could help the Cougars overcome the struggles of Tyler Haws. Haws entered that game as the WCC's top scorer, and remains there at over 20 points per game. Gary Bell Jr. and company helped limit Haws to a single point and an 0-for-9 showing from the floor. The only other time he failed to reach double-figures was Dec. 1 at Iowa State. Since the Gonzaga game the sophomore guard has topped 20 points in five of their eight games. Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris had perhaps their best combined showing of the season when they hosted the Cougars. The GU posts combined for 51 points and 19 rebounds, while hitting 17 of their 20 attempts. Mark Few has had four different players lead the team in scoring in their last four games. Kevin Pangos had 18 against San Diego, but with the Marriott Center being one of the WCC's toughest places to play it could again come down to Gonzaga's skill on the block. Especially since Bell will likely spend most of his energy trying to put the clamps on Haws again.
The Storylines - On Monday Gonzaga could rise to No. 1 in the nation for the first time ever. The only guarantee is that that won't happen if GU loses between now and then. They also need just one more win (or a St. Mary's loss) to clinch the outright WCC regular season title. Meanwhile, BYU's six-year streak of 25-win seasons is in jeopardy. That run is the second longest in the nation (Kansas is at seven). The Zags will try and keep them from win No. 21 with their first successul trip to Provo, following an 83-73 defeat last year.