Posted on January 2, 2013 at 8:48 PM
No. 10 Gonzaga (13-1, 0-0) visits Pepperdine (8-5, 0-0) Thursday at 6:00 p.m in Firestone Fieldhouse. The game will be televised by Root Sports.
The Stats – The Waves aren’t what you’d call a ‘lock down’ defensive team. Their 63.5 points allowed per game isn’t appalling, but it’s easy to see why they’ve been susceptible to big numbers from the opposition. They give up over six three pointers a game, with teams hitting 34 percent of their attempts – which ranks 215th in the country. Their 5.4 steals and 2.2 blocks per game both rank 295th in all the land. Pepperdine’s offense is partially to blame for their defensive struggles. They turn it over 15.8 times per outing, with 23 coming in a defeat at the hands of Cal State Northridge. Their loss to Utah Valley was marred by a 17 TO/9 assist performance. Gonzaga could very well keep the scoreboard operator busy Thursday – especially if Pepperdine keeps handing out freebies. Thus far the magic number for Pepperdine opponents has been 67. The Waves are 0-5 when allowing teams to reach that figure.
The Stars – Pepperdine doesn’t boast the array of explosive scorers that Gonzaga has both displayed and encountered this year. Senior guard Lorne Jackson is their top scorer (14.8), with freshman forward Stacy Davis as the only other player averaging double-digits (11.3). The Waves have only had three 20-plus point performances this year – one from Jackson, Davis and sophomore guard Jordan Baker. By comparison, Gonzaga has had a dozen such outings. No surprise, GU also has a distinct height advantage. Pepperdine only has one player over 6’7” that averages over 10 minutes of playing time. That opens the door for a handful of Zags to make an impact, but if we’re going based on recent history Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk seem like safe bets. Pangos has snapped out of his cold streak with 31 and 23 point games, while Olynyk has posted back-to-back 21-point performances. There’s no reason to believe they’ll slow down now.
The Storylines – Mark Few’s squad has had a clear upper hand over the Waves in the last decade. Gonzaga has won the teams’ last 22 meetings, with Pepperdine’s last victory coming in 2002. In his career Few is 26-2 against the fellas from Malibu. One positive for the Waves has been their play at home, where they’ve compiled a 4-1 record. A fifth ‘W’ in the friendly confines would appear to be a tall task in the teams’ West Coast Conference debut.