MALIBU, Calif. – Gonzaga figured Thursday’s men’s basketball contest with Loyola Marymount wasn’t going to be easy, even with Lions’ leading scorer Drew Viney watching from the sidelines in street clothes.
The same scenario applies to Saturday night’s game against Pepperdine, which will be without Keion Bell, who has been suspended for the remainder of the season for conduct detrimental to the team.
Bell, Pepperdine’s top scorer the last three years, has missed the last two games, but the Waves responded with a pair of wins. Pepperdine (11-16, 5-5 WCC) edged Portland 66-64 on Thursday as Mychel Thompson, older brother of Washington State’s Klay Thompson, scored 18 points and Lorne Jackson, who has emerged as a scoring threat in his junior season, added 15. Six of Jackson’s seven 20-point games have occurred this season.
“They shoot it really well. They’ll play multiple defenses against us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “They throw a lot of bodies at you, but Klay and Lorne are the guys we have to keep our eyes on.”
Gonzaga has won 19 straight in the series, including a 92-75 victory in Spokane, notable for Robert Sacre’s perfect shooting night (8 of 8 field goals, 8 of 8 free throws, career-high 24 points).
“They’re a tough team and we have to respect them,” Sacre said of Pepperdine, which sits in fifth place, a half-game ahead of Portland. “They’re going challenge us.”
Gonzaga’s challenge is to cut down its turnovers. The Bulldogs had 20 against in Thursday’s 67-57 win over Loyola Marymount, their third highest this season (25 vs. Washington State and 23 vs. Xavier).