Gonzaga has replaced two postponed West Coast Conference home games with two WCC road games.
The Bulldogs will face Pacific at 6 p.m. Thursday on CBS Sports Network and BYU at 8 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The Zags were scheduled to entertain Loyola Marymount on Thursday and Santa Clara on Saturday, but the visitors postponed due to COVID-19 issues in their programs.
No. 1 Gonzaga has a pair of open dates because it was originally scheduled to visit Pacific on Feb. 25 and BYU on Feb. 27 in the regular-season finale. Pacific has had 17 games – nine nonconference, eight WCC – postponed or canceled.
Gonzaga’s rescheduling options were limited with five conference teams – LMU, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Diego and Saint Mary’s – postponing games this week in response to COVID-19 issues. Those postponements included BYU-San Diego on Tuesday and Pacific-San Francisco on Thursday.
The Zags attempted to put together nonconference games against No. 5 Houston and No. 3 Villanova.
Houston declined to face GU on Saturday in Salt Lake City to avoid making three road trips in a seven-day span. Houston announced it will entertain Our Lady of the Lake University on Saturday. The NAIA team is 1-3 and hasn’t played since Dec. 20.
GU then reached out to Villanova, but the Wildcats’ priority was rescheduling a Big East opponent. They lined up a Sunday meeting with Georgetown to replace Xavier.
The scouting reports are probably reasonably fresh for Gonzaga (17-0, 8-0 WCC) and Pacific (5-4, 2-3) after the Zags’ 95-49 rout of the Tigers Jan. 23 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The Tigers fell behind by 26 midway through the opening half. The 46-point margin was the most lopsided of Gonzaga’s 17 wins.
Pacific tried to slow the pace, but a string of first-half turnovers sparked Gonzaga’s transition game. The Tigers made just 28% from the field and finished with three assists and 13 turnovers.
GU sophomore forward Drew Timme dominated inside with 22 points, Corey Kispert had three 3-pointers and 16 points and Jalen Suggs flirted with a triple-double before finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Pacific has dropped three straight, including a 95-87 double-overtime setback to BYU on Saturday in Provo, Utah. The Tigers gave BYU everything it could handle in a game that had 20 lead changes and was tied 16 times.
That was the Pacific team Gonzaga was expecting to see in the first meeting. GU coach Mark Few has noted that the Tigers are usually one of the more physical, tougher-minded teams on the Zags’ schedule.
That wasn’t the case Jan. 23, but the Tigers seemed to regain that mindset in its near upset of the Cougars. The top seven players in the rotation scored at least seven points, led by reserve guard Justin Moore’s 18 points and four assists.
Sophomore guard Daniss Jenkins averages a team-high 13.6 points and senior wing Jeremiah Bailey contributes 10.1 points and 7.1 assists. Five Tigers contribute at least eight points per game.
Gonzaga, second-ranked Baylor (17-0) and No. 25 Drake (17-0) are the only unbeatens left in Division I.