Malibu, CA (Sports Network) - The 10th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs and Pepperdine
Waves tip off West Coast Conference action on Thursday, as the two teams
square off the Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.
Despite having their long streak of conference titles come to an end last
season (11), Mark Few's Bulldogs are once again the favorites to win the
league crown. Gonzaga has certainly looked the past of a powerhouse this
season, winning 13 of its 14 games to date to set the school record for best
start in its Division I history. The Zags' lone loss came on Dec. 8 against
top-25 foe Illinois (85-74), but the team has rallied with four straight wins
to close out the 2012 calendar year, including Monday's thrilling 69-68 win at
Marty Wilson's Waves are flying a bit under the radar, but have certainly had
their moments this season, closing out non-conference play at a respectable
8-5. The Waves ended the 2012 portion of their schedule with wins in two of
their last three games, including a 60-59 decision over Fresno State last
Friday. The eight victories are the most non-conference wins heading into
league play for the Waves since the 2004-05 season.
Gonzaga holds a 42-31 advantage in the all-time series with Pepperdine,
including wins in each of the last 22 meetings dating back to the 2001-02
Kevin Pangos netted 23 points and Kelly Olynyk added 21, as Gonzaga came from
behind to knock off Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Monday. Despite the strong
offensive performances, it was a Gary Bell Jr. 3-pointer with under a minute
to play that gave the Bulldogs the lead and sent them onto victory. Gonzaga
had a huge advantage on the boards (37-21) and swept its Big 12 non-conference
slate with a flawless 5-0 mark this year.
Gonzaga is one of the most balanced and productive offensive teams in the
country, shooting .518 from the floor (second nationally), while posting 80.9
ppg. Olynyk and Elias Harris give the team a pair of big time performers in
the frontcourt. Olynyk is shooting a hefty .670 from the floor and leads the
team in scoring at 15.7 ppg, while ranking second in rebounding (6.5 rpg).
Harris is converting 51.2 percent of the time from the floor and pours in 14.9
ppg, while leading the way on the glass (7.2 rpg). Pangos (12.4 ppg) and Bell
(10.4 ppg) are getting it done along the perimeter, as the pair have combined
for 53 of the team's 88 3-pointers to date.
The Waves aren't quite as efficient on the offensive end, but the team has
shown signs of improved play, out-shooting its last 11 opponents. Overall,
Pepperdine is averaging a modest 65.0 ppg, although doing so on a healthy .458
shooting. Lorne Jackson is tops on the team in scoring at 14.8 ppg, despite
shooting just .418 from the floor. Stacy Davis is the only other player
currently in double figures at 11.3 ppg, while pacing the Waves in rebounding
(6.9 rpg). Jordan Baker is just under double-digits at 9.8 ppg and is the
team's top distributor (3.8 apg).
Jackson converted the game-winning layup with just under four seconds
remaining, propelling the Waves to a thrilling one-point win over Fresno State
last week. Davis led the team in scoring and rebounding in the victory, just
missing a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. Jackson added 16
points to the cause, while Nikolas Skouen came off the bench to tally 12
points in only 15 minutes of work.
The Sports Network