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Unbeaten Gonzaga entertains struggling Pilots

Gonzaga guard Silas Melson launches a 3-pointer against Loyola Marymount on Jan. 12. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga and Portland were scheduled to meet Jan. 7 in Portland but the game was postponed by inclement weather.

The Zags have since tacked up three more lopsided wins to reach 18-0 and No. 4 in the polls. The Pilots are still stuck on nine wins overall, two in WCC play.

Two teams speeding in opposite directions collide Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center before squaring off two days later in the rescheduled game in Portland.

Gonzaga continues to steamroll opponents, hammering Santa Clara by 31 on Thursday. The Zags have won six WCC games by an average of 26.2 points.

The rescheduled contest leaves Gonzaga with five games in 10 days, including three single-game plane trips.

“It’s going to be tough,” sophomore point guard Josh Perkins said, “but growing up this is the kind of thing you ask for. If you want to be an NBA player this is what they do day in and day out.”

Coach Mark Few reminded his players after Thursday’s rout over Santa Clara of the importance of taking care of their bodies.

“You have to pay a lot more to how you treat your body for the next four or five days,” guard Silas Melson said. “Get a lot of liquids, electrolytes and stay hydrated.”

The Pilots (9-9, 2-4) also face a packed 10-day schedule, but they carry additional baggage with a four-game losing streak. After winning their first two WCC games, they were crushed by Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s and San Francisco, and lost at the buzzer to Loyola Marymount.

Senior point guard Alec Wintering has seen his scoring average drop nearly three points during a prolonged shooting slump. The last time he made at least 50 percent of his shots was 10 games ago.

Wintering’s assists numbers have declined recently, too, but he’s still just five assists from becoming the program’s all-time leader.

Sidekick Jazz Johnson (16.9 points per game) has reached double figures in every game this season.

“We’ve got some aggressive guards coming in, but I’m pretty sure we’ve got some really good guards on our side, too,” Perkins said. “So we’ll be ready for it.”