Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount tonight resume a series that went from one-sided to interesting last season.
The Bulldogs won two of the three meetings, but each game had intriguing storylines. GU defeated an injury-depleted LMU in Spokane, and then lost to a healthier Lions outfit in Los Angeles. The Zags beat LMU by 15 in a physical WCC tournament contest that ended the Lions’ season.
“They gave us a lot of trouble last year,” Gonzaga senior guard Steven Gray said. Gonzaga had won 29 of 31 prior to LMU’s upset victory a year ago.
This won’t be the 1-versus-2 showdown that was projected in the WCC coaches’ preseason poll. Preseason favorite Gonzaga (12-5, 2-0) joins Saint Mary’s (15-2, 3-0) as the only WCC unbeatens. Loyola Marymount (8-9, 1-2), picked second in the preseason poll, is tied for sixth after a double-overtime loss at Portland on Thursday.
However, the Lions are on the mend. Forward Ashley Hamilton played Thursday for the first time since breaking his hand Dec. 7. Forward Edgar Garibay, who suffered an ACL injury last season, has missed time with lingering knee soreness and a concussion, but he has played in the last three games. He scored 10 points against the Pilots.
LMU will be without junior guard Jarred DuBois, who had season-ending foot surgery Wednesday. DuBois has averaged 13.5, 12.3 and 10.2 points in his three seasons.
Forward Drew Viney and guard Vernon Teel are returning All-WCC first-team selections. Viney averages a team-high 15.3 points while Teel checks in at 14.1 points and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds. Freshman guard Anthony Ireland is coming off back-to-back 15-point outings.
“They spread you out and bounce it at you,” GU coach Mark Few said. “They’re tough guys and offensively gifted guys.”