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Gonzaga worrying about LMU first, then Saint Mary’s

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, right, speaks with guard Nigel Williams-Goss (5) as Williams-Goss goes to the bench during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pepperdine in Spokane, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, right, speaks with guard Nigel Williams-Goss (5) as Williams-Goss goes to the bench during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pepperdine in Spokane, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)

It’s the game before the game, and that can sound an alarm for worrywart coaches.

Gonzaga entertains Loyola Marymount on Thursday at the McCarthey Athletic Center, two days before a showdown against Saint Mary’s on national television.

It’s a trap-game scenario but Zags coach Mark Few’s fret level hasn’t changed one bit.

“We been pretty good all year about that,” Few said. “They understand Loyola is much improved. It’s going to be a really physical game. They have to prepare themselves for that.”

No. 5 Gonzaga (15-0, 3-0 WCC) is the only unbeaten left in Division I after top-ranked Baylor’s loss to West Virginia on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty cool obviously,” junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss said. “It’s a testament to how much hard work we’ve put in. We’re trying to move forward and get better each week.”

The Lions (8-7, 1-3) don’t bring the record or national ranking of the Gaels, but they’re not a pushover. They’ve played four one-point games and eight of their last 12 have been decided in the last 10 seconds.

LMU lost by three to UConn, by one to Mountain West Conference-leading Boise State, by three to Texas Arlington (RPI 42), by five to BYU and by one to Pepperdine on a last-second shot.

Postponement irks Few

The decision to postpone the Gonzaga-Portland game last Saturday in Portland didn’t sit well with Few.

“We wanted to play Saturday, we should have played Saturday,” Few said. “And it caused a major headache because they overreacted to some pretty puny weather. Now it’s going to be a pain in the rear.”

There was some discussion about playing Sunday night but “Sunday was the bad one” for weather conditions, Few said.

Light snow fell Saturday in Portland but the bigger issue was freezing rain later in the day. The Portland Trail Blazers and Western Hockey League Portland Winterhawks postponed home games. Portland State’s home game against Sacramento State went on as scheduled.

Portland A.D. Scott Leykam said the decision to postpone was made “for the safety of all involved.”

A decision on the make-up date could come as soon as Thursday.

Williams-Goss makes Wooden Top 25

Williams-Goss has made the John Wooden Award’s Midseason Top 25. The Wooden Award is presented annually to the most outstanding player in college basketball.

Williams-Goss, who was also on the award’s preseason Top 50, leads Gonzaga in scoring at 15.3 points per game. He ranks 10th in the WCC in scoring, 11th in rebounding (6.1), seventh in assists (4.8), third in steals (1.7) and first in free-throw percentage (90.6).

Williams-Goss was named WCC player of the week after scoring a career-high 36 points in a victory over San Francisco last Thursday.

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