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Undefeated Gonzaga faces first road test against Pacific

Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews, hitting a shot over South Dakota guard Triston Simpson on Dec. 21, says he’s not concerned about travel lag for the 7th-ranked Zags. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews, hitting a shot over South Dakota guard Triston Simpson on Dec. 21, says he’s not concerned about travel lag for the 7th-ranked Zags. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

For Gonzaga players with professional aspirations, the WCC schedule offers a pretty good travel primer.

To avoid pre-Christmas conference games for a second straight season, the WCC condensed the 18-game schedule into nine weeks instead of the customary 10, resulting in numerous split weeks and virtually the elimination of travel partners.

No. 7 Gonzaga (13-0) follows up Thursday’s rout over visiting Pepperdine with a trip to Stockton to face Pacific on Saturday, the first of GU’s five split weeks with one home game and one away.

“All these guys want to be pros, this is a pro schedule,” coach Mark Few said. “Let’s act like it then. You have to take great care of your bodies, get rest and plenty of liquids.”

Senior guard Jordan Mathews isn’t overly concerned.

“It’s going to be a quick turnaround, but we’re young,” he said. “We’ll be ready.”

This will be the Zags’ first true road game. They’re 5-0 on neutral courts.

The Zags weren’t sharp in the first half but they outscored Pepperdine 48-25 in the second.

“They played us physical last year,” Few said of Pacific. “They have a lot of seniors, upperclassmen, that alone makes for a tough encounter. Then you hang a big ranking on your back, we have to be better than we were (Thursday).”

In this Jan. 23, 2016 file photo, Pacific guard David Taylor, left, comes up with the loose ball against Gonzaga guard Silas Melson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stockton, Calif. Gonzaga won 71-61. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
In this Jan. 23, 2016 file photo, Pacific guard David Taylor, left, comes up with the loose ball against Gonzaga guard Silas Melson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stockton, Calif. Gonzaga won 71-61. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Pacific (6-8) is coming off an 80-76 home loss to Portland. The Tigers were without guard David Taylor (ankle), forward Ilias Theodorou (foot), Sami Eleraky (undisclosed) and Tonko Vuko (ankle).

Portland All-WCC guard Alec Wintering had 26 points and six assists. The Pilots committed just two turnovers.

First-year Tigers coach Damon Stoudamire is familiar with Gonzaga from his previous assistant coaching stops at Memphis and Arizona.

“They’re a meat-and-potatoes team,” Stoudamire said. “They’re coming inside out, and it’s been like that since (Few) had the job and before he had the job.”

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