Pepperdine (10-5, 3-0) at San Francisco (9-6, 2-1)
Date: Saturday, January 4th, 2014
Location: War Memorial Gym, San Francisco, CA
Time: 1:00 p.m. PST
TV: TWC SPORTSNET, ROOT SPORTS NW & RM, CSNCA, THEW.TV
Last Season: The Dons won both matchups against Pepperdine.
Pepperdine and San Francisco were expected to struggle this year in conference play, however each for different reasons.
For Pepperdine, fans, coaches and national pundits expected the Waves to be a bottom-feeder in the WCC this season. Losing Lorne Jackson and Caleb Willis to graduation and Jordan Baker to the college basketball transfer market was the primary reason for this. Pepperdine was picked to finish last in about every WCC poll you could come across in the preseason.
Currently, Pepperdine is 3-0 in conference play and tied for first place in the WCC with Gonzaga, initially proving its doubters wrong.
In Northern California, many people immediately wrote-off the San Francisco Dons when the departure of former point guard Cody Doolin was publicly announced. So far in conference play, this has made little to no impact to the Dons, and they have gotten off to a solid 2-1 start.
These two “overachieving” squads meet tomorrow in hopes of upholding to that mantra.
Keys to the Game
Use the Long Ball, but be Cautious: It’s no secret that the Dons like to fire up threes. However, USF is at its best when it is shooting 10-20 threes per game opposed to 20+.
In the Dons 7 wins against division I opponents, they averaged 13.9 threes. In losses, San Francisco is shooting 25.3 threes per game, including a contest against Idaho State where they shot a staggering 46.
San Francisco has some fantastic three point shooters – Chris Adams, Tim Derksen and Avry Holmes all have three-point percentages around 40.0% – but the Dons would be better off by not chucking up 20+ threes against the Waves tomorrow afternoon
Find the hot hand, then go to it: In Pepperdine’s three prior wins, the Waves have had a player step up and subsequently propel the Waves to victory. Against San Diego and BYU, it was Malcolm Brooks, who scored 20 and 24 points in back-to-back games. Against Santa Clara, it was Brendan Lane, who dropped 26 points and snagged 17 rebounds in the victory.
Thankfully for Pepperdine, this shouldn’t be too hard to come by. Four different Waves – Jeremy Major, Malcolm Brooks, Stacy Davis and Brendan Lane – all have the potential to drop 20+ points in any given night. Pepperdine’s chances of victory tonight would skyrocket if Brooks or Lane replicate their performances tomorrow night.
Matchup of the Game
Jeremy Major vs. Matt Glover: The freshman point guard will get a considerable test today with Matt Glover, a physical player that plays great defense. Major has come into his own the past 4 or so games, but will get a considerable challenge from Glover. If the Penn State transfer frustrates the frosh, the Pepperdine offense could stall and turn the ball over, which will most likely cost the game for the Waves.
USF has been a bit of a wildcard this season. They have beaten some pretty good opponents such as Cleveland State and Portland in impressive fashion. However, the Dons have struggled against the top teams on their schedule, namely Oregon, St. Johns and Gonzaga. Is Pepperdine in that category yet? I think they are pretty darn close. Pepperdine wins by single digits. Pepperdine 82, San Francisco 76.