If you watched the first meeting this year between Gonzaga and the University of San Diego, you saw the Zags win, if not easily, at least not with a lot of strain.
The Zags jumped out early, led by eight at halftime and breezed to a nine-point victory.
All without much help from Derek Raivio.
The senior guard took just four shots. He scored seven points. He was the focus of the USD defense. Without him, Matt Bouldin (18 points) and Jeremy Pargo (18 points, seven assists, six rebounds) stepped up. Sean Mallon added 11 points and yes, Josh Heytvelt, added 15 points.
Ross DeRogatis hit four 3-pointers and led the Toreros with 23 points.
So what does all that have to do with tonight's game? Usually, both teams in the second game of a conference series tries to shore up the defensive lapses that allowed their opponents to be successful. In this case, however, I'm not sure much will change.
The Toreros will try to limit Raivio. That's always been their defensive game plan, limit the Zags' top offensive performer and make the other players beat them. Without the inside threat of Heytvelt, USD will probably believe its imperative to stop Raivio.
But the Zags have being doing a better job of getting the shooting guard free since Heytvelt's suspension, making it even tougher to stop a guy with range out to 25 feet. And, ever notice Bouldin slipping a screen and scoring on an easy basket cut? Most of those screens were set for Raivio, taking advantage of the defense's preoccupation with him.
In the first game, GU put together an impressive defensive performance – for a half. The Zags limited USD to 33 percent shooting for a half before relaxing and allowing the Toreros to hit 57 percent after halftime. For GU to prevail on the road, it needs to play with that first-half intensity for the entire 40 minutes. With the WCC title on the line, most Gonzaga fans would like to think intensity wouldn't be a question.
We'll see if the Zags can in about 15 minutes.