Zag Hot File: St. Mary's
Posted on February 14, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Thursday, Feb 14 at 6:26 AM
No. 3/5 Gonzaga (23-2, 10-0) visits St. Mary's (21-4, 10-1) Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at McKeon Pavilion. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
The Stats - You don't have to spend much time looking at the West Coast Conference statistics to see why matchups between these teams often end up so close (like GU's 83-78 win in January). The Zags have a slim edge in a number of categories, such as scoring offense (77.1 to 75.2), defense (59.5 to 61.4), scoring margin, field goal percentage, and three-point shooting. The Gaels' biggest weakness is their three-point defense, where they rank 333rd out of 345 teams, allowing makes on 38.5 percent of opponents' tries. Kevin Pangos was the lone beneficiary of that in January, accounting for three of the Bulldogs' four made threes. Where Randy Bennett's team excels is on the glass. They're 4th in the nation in rebound margin (9.4), and had a 39-27 edge on the Zags the first time around.
The Stars - One name always comes to mind when St. Mary's is in focus: Matthew Dellavedova. But in their first meeting Stephen Holt paced the Gaels with 23 points, 15 of which came during their second half comeback. Holt hit nine of his 14 attempts, mixing in a trio of triples. Meanwhile, the Zags held Dellavedova to 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting with just two threes on nine attempts. Those two lead SMC's four double-digit scorers, with No. 4 averaging 15.9 per game. However, Dellavedova has finished with 11 or less in five of their last seven games, while Holt hasn't topped nine points in four straight. Six-foot-nine-inch forward Brad Waldow has provided scoring depth of late, with 12 or more points in six of their last seven gams. As for Gonzaga, who would be shocked to see Kevin Pangos put together a big game against the Gaels? He has had a knack for shining when the team needs it, with 22 points when they met in Spokane. He's also had at least a share for the GU's top scoring honors in their last two games. But the guy that stole the show the first time around was Kelly Olynyk, who had a game-high 31 on 11-for-19 shooting. The seven-footer has been impressive away from Spokane, where he's averaged over 19 points in true road games (nearly two points above his season average).
The Storylines - Beginning in 2001, Gonzaga and St. Mary's have claimed every WCC Regular Season Championship. In all likelihood that will be the case again this season, with Thursday's result helping decide which team adds to that streak. Speaking of streaks, GU's run of 14 straight years with a regular season or tournament championship ended last year when the Gaels claimed both. In each of the last four years the WCC Championship Game came down to SMC and Gonzaga. As far as current trends go, St. Mary's is the hottest team in the conference, with nine straight wins dating back to their loss in Spokane. A 10th would earn them a half-game edge on the Zags. But if Gonzaga claims WCC win No. 11 Thursday, Mark Few's team will be awfully hard to catch.