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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: The Zags have three big reasons to want to hand BYU a McCarthey defeat tonight

Gonzaga freshman Evann Schultz, 18, arrives with her sleeping bag at the tent city set up in at Herak Field, Friday, Feb 2, 2018. In a Gonzaga tradition, students, in order to obtain tickets to the basketball game with BYU, set up a tent city and camp overnight. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga freshman Evann Schultz, 18, arrives with her sleeping bag at the tent city set up in at Herak Field, Friday, Feb 2, 2018. In a Gonzaga tradition, students, in order to obtain tickets to the basketball game with BYU, set up a tent city and camp overnight. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There is a big game in McCarthey tonight. How do we know? Two reasons. BYU is in town and there are tents set up outside. Read on.

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• Gonzaga doesn’t lose all that often at the McCarthey Athletic Center. About once a year, tops, if that.

But BYU has made the Kennel its own Cougar clubhouse the past three years, winning on the Zags’ home court each time. Twice the Cougars have ruined senior night. Last year they ruined Gonzaga’s perfect regular season. This year?

This year the Zags are ready to end BYU’s streak. Enough is enough. It’s time for the mini-losing-streak to end.

After all, this year’s BYU squad isn’t good enough to win at Loyola Marymount. So how can it win in the Kennel?

Let me give you one reason: It is college basketball.

Yes, the Lions were as bad a team as the West Coast Conference has. And yes, there were more BYU fans in Gersten Pavilion on Thursday night than there were Loyola fans. But the Lions were ready. BYU was already in Spokane, at least mentally.

And LMU pasted a 76-69 upset on the Cougars.

Add that loss to BYU’s earlier defeat at Pacific and the Cougars have forfeited any chance of an NCAA bid, unless they win the WCC’s postseason tournament. So tonight’s game in McCarthey is, once again, their season highlight.

The Cougars will be focused. They will play hard. They won’t fold. Will they win? Well, they have the last three seasons so there certainly isn’t any fear of the place.

But the flip side of that is a Gonzaga senior like Silas Melson has never defeated BYU at home. He doesn’t want to leave the place at the end of the year without at least one win over the Cougars in Spokane. That would seem like a resume hole that would eat at you.

So Gonzaga wins tonight. Handily. In front of a raucous crowd.

•••

WSU: Travis Long spent a few years in Philadelphia. All in all, he would rather be in Spokane. Or maybe Minneapolis this week. Jim Allen caught up with the former Washington State star whose NFL career with the Eagles was cut short by knee injuries. … The Cougars continue to line up recruits for signing day this week. Theo Lawson has a story on the most recent commitment. … In basketball, the Cougar women picked up a win in Tucson against Arizona.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, it was an up-and-down week in the conference in case you were wondering. … The biggest basketball game today is probably in Seattle, where Lorenzo Romar returns to Washington as an Arizona assistant coach. Romar did so much for UW and should be recognized for it. … Arizona State is at Washington State on Sunday. One has to wonder if the Sun Devils are not going to make the NCAAs. … There was one conference game last night. It was in Boulder and Colorado snapped a long losing streak to Utah by holding the Utes to their lowest point total of the season. … The Oregon schools are still in the Bay Area. Oregon’s game with Stanford is something of an elimination game. … The latest UCLA showdown with USC is something of one as well. … In football news, Washington will have an abundance of quarterback riches starting in the spring.

Gonzaga: Jim Meehan has covered each of the Zags’ three consecutive home losses to BYU, so he’s uniquely qualified to look back at them. And he previews tonight’s matchup. … Yoeli Childs will test the Gonzaga bigs. Jim has a look at the Cougars’ main inside threat. … The students didn’t have to worry about the cold as they waited in line. Ryan Collingwood has a story on the tent city. … Brett Bailey proudly wore his USD gear Thursday night. Whitney Ogden caught up with the former U-Hi and San Diego standout. … The women will take a 13-game winning streak into today’s showdown at BYU. Whitney has a preview. … Around the WCC, San Diego will try to pin the first conference loss on Saint Mary’s.

Idaho: Year after year, Jerry Kramer has waited for the words that have never come. Now the former Idaho and Green Bay Packer guard from Sandpoint hopes to hear he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John Blanchette has some thoughts on the long wait Kramer has endured and the chances it ends today.

Whitworth: The Pirates had little trouble in Oregon against Pacific.

Chiefs: Spokane’s road trip continued with a 5-3 win over Kootenay last night.

Preps: It’s time for state playoffs to begin, and we start this weekend with district wrestling. Dave Nichols has a preview of what’s to come. … Basketball is there as well, and Dave covered the girls 5A playoffs in Idaho last night. … We also can pass along roundups of boys and girls basketball action from around the area.

Seahawks: Justin Coleman is helping the Salvation Army raise money. … Speaking of money, Russell Wilson is going to make more soon.

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• There is a pretty big football game tomorrow. It’s supposed to be super or something. Do you have your vegetable trays ready? Until later …

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