No. 12 Gonzaga (7-0) welcomes Pacific (3-3) to the McCarthey Athletic Center Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in a game televised by Root Sports.
The Stats – Pacific isn’t what you would call a lock-down defensive team. If you take out their 76-38 win over division II Holy Names, the Tigers are allowing 69.2 points per game. The exception came in their impressive back-to-back wins over Xavier and Saint Mary’s, where they held a pair of high-scoring teams eight points below their average. They’ll need that type of effort in order to have a chance Saturday against a GU squad that is 8th in the nation at 85.3 points per game, and tied for 28th at 56 points allowed.
The Stars – The Tigers rely on the one-two punch of guard Lorenzo McCloud (11.7 points/game) and 6-foot-7-inch forward Ross Rivera (10.2). The Zags’ size and athleticism could make lift difficult for Rivera. McCloud is their senior floor general, and led the way against the Gaels with an 18-point performance. He’ll be key against GU’s backcourt. On the other side, Gonzaga is facing another team without the size to match the Bulldogs’ frontline. Tim Thomas (6’10”) is Pacific’s lone player taller than 6-feet-8-inches, and he only plays eight minutes a game. Assuming Elias Harris returns after getting the night off against LC State it will be interesting to see if he keeps the hot hand. Meanwhile, it’s pick-your-poison with the Zags’ low-post trio; Sam Dower, Przemek Karnowski, and Kelly Olynyk combined for 40 points and 21 boards Thursday.
The Storylines – Gonzaga and Pacific will quickly add to their history in the coming seasons. The programs have met three times, most recently in 1976, with GU holding a 2-1 series advantage. But beginning next year the Bulldogs and Tigers will be WCC rivals. Pacific got the conference’s attention with their 76-66 win over defending champ SMC. They’ll hope to make another statement on Saturday.