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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

No. 1 Gonzaga closes nonconference slate against underdog Detroit Mercy

Dec. 29, 2019 Updated Mon., Dec. 30, 2019 at 3:15 p.m.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few patrols the sideline during the Zags’ 112-77 win over Eastern Washington on Dec. 21. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga coach Mark Few patrols the sideline during the Zags’ 112-77 win over Eastern Washington on Dec. 21. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo

Gonzaga this decade has had holiday breaks of six, seven, eight and nine days prior to its first post-Christmas contest.

The Bulldogs have faced six West Coast Conference foes home or away, two overmatched nonconference opponents and highly regarded Baylor. The margin of the outcomes ranged between one bucket and 45 points.

The end result: Nine Gonzaga victories.

The top-ranked Zags (13-1) shoot for a perfect 10 on Monday against visiting Detroit Mercy, nine days after dusting Eastern Washington by 35 points. The Titans (2-11) come in as major underdogs with one oddsmaker listing the Zags as 31 1/2-point favorites.

Nearly every stat and streak, current and over the past decade, favors the Zags, who have won five straight and own 30 consecutive home wins, longest in the nation.

Gonzaga was fifth in Sunday’s NET rankings while the Titans are No. 317. At, GU is sixth but rates No. 1 in offensive efficiency. The Titans are 297th and their defensive efficiency is No. 334.

Detroit Mercy, picked eighth in the 10-team Horizon League preseason poll, has dropped eight of its last nine, six by double digits. The Titans hoisted a school-record 46 3-pointers, hitting 12, in a 78-69 loss to Oakland on Saturday. Detroit Mercy is 13th nationally with 383 3-point attempts.

Gonzaga returned to practice Friday, hoping the short holiday break helped assist the healing process for Killian Tillie (knee, ankle), Admon Gilder (knee) and Anton Watson (shoulder).

The Zags, who open WCC play Thursday at Portland, average 88.2 points, second only to EWU’s 88.6 nationally. The Titans give up 79.8 per game, 335th nationally.

Detroit Mercy second-year coach Mike Davis was previously at Texas Southern, which was blown out twice at the McCarthey Athletic Center during Davis’ tenure. The coach’s son, Antoine, is one of the top scorers in the country, and another son, Mike Jr., is an assistant coach.

Antoine, a sophomore guard, originally committed to Houston before changing to Texas Southern when his dad was the head coach. He followed his father to Detroit Mercy two years ago.

Davis averages 25.2 points and has scored in double figures in all 42 career games. Justin Miller, a 6-foot-6, 268-pound forward who transferred from Louisiana Lafayette, is second in scoring at 8.5 points.

Detroit Mercy’s roster includes grad transfer guard Brad Calipari, son of Kentucky coach John Calipari; Dwayne Rose Jr., nephew of NBA standout Derrick Rose; Chris Brandon, nephew of former NBA player and coach John Lucas; and Jamail Pink, nephew of Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler.

The Titans haven’t faced a No. 1 team since the 1977 NCAA Tournament. Detroit Mercy, coached by Dick Vitale, lost 86-81 to No. 1 Michigan in Vitale’s final game before being named head coach of the Detroit Pistons.

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