I've put together a few notes that will run on the S-R's Four Corners college basketball page Thursday. You can read the unedited copy below.
RECORD: 21-4, 9-1 WCC
COMING UP: Tonight at LMU, 6; Saturday at Pepperdine, 6
OUTLOOK: Gonzaga can secure no worse than a share of the WCC title and lock up the top seed for the conference tournament with a pair of road wins. LMU battled Gonzaga to a 42-all halftime tie last month before the Bulldogs pulled away for an 85-69 victory. Vernon Teel scored 27 points and Drew Viney added 20 points for the Lions, who played without Jarred DuBois (12.9 points) and Ashley Hamilton (7.2 points) in the first meeting. Both are expected to play tonight. Gonzaga has won 29 of the last 31 in the series. Pepperdine has lost seven straight conference games, five by 16 points or more, after a 3-0 start. That losing streak began with Gonzaga’s 91-84 win last month. Guard Keion Bell scored 34 of Pepperdine’s 55 second-half points in the first meeting.
And some items for the college basketball notebook...
Gonzaga’s defense has improved markedly of late and it will be put to the test again this week.
That’s because Loyola Marymount, which entertains GU tonight at 6, is the third-highest scoring team in the WCC at 75.6 points per game. In the first meeting last month, Gonzaga won 85-69, despite LMU junior guard Vernon Teel’s career-high 27 points. Two nights before that, Pepperdine sophomore guard Keion Bell’s poured in 34 of his 37 points in the second half, but Gonzaga held on 91-84.
“The two aspects that have been happening is we’ve been protecting the rim really well, other than it slipped against San Diego for a couple minutes, and ‘Meech’ (Demetri Goodson) has got our defense going on the perimeter by picking up and not giving people easy entry passes into their offense,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Goodson was particularly effective against
Gonzaga could choose to guard the 6-foot-4 Teel and the 6-3
Meanwhile, opponents have put additional emphasis on slowing Gonzaga forward Elias Harris. Over the last four games, he’s averaging 11 points and shooting 40.5 percent.
“He’s getting jammed pretty good in there,” Few said of Harris, who is averaging 15.4 points and shooting 55.2 percent. “He’s seeing a lot more traffic on a lot of his touches. He’s certainly not dealing with any one-on-one situations like he was earlier.”
The question has been asked often this week about how a tie would be broken if Saint Mary’s and Portland win out and presumably finish tied for second with 11-3 records. The first two tiebreakers – head-to-head and record vs. conference in descending order of finish – wouldn’t break it. The next tiebreaker is Collegiate Basketball News’ RPI (rpiratings.com).
Through Sunday, Saint Mary’s is No. 44 and