Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-6, 13-3) vs. Pacific Tigers (14-13, 5-11)
Date: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Location: Alex G. Spanos Center, Stockton, Calif.
Time: 7:00 PM PST
Previous Matchup: Gonzaga 86, Pacific 64
Gary Bell Jr.
Sam Dower Jr.
The first time these two teams met, Gonzaga controlled the game from the tip, going out to a 14-3 lead after just 3 minutes, and cruised to an easy 86-64 victory. Deadly shooting propelled the Zags, who shot 69.2% (27-39). Drew Barham and Kevin Pangos had 16 points for the Bulldogs, while David Taylor and Andrew Bock led the Tigers with 10 points each.
This matchup has become a lot more interesting due to the games last weekend. Gonzaga lost at BYU and at San Diego, and fell to 23-6 on the year. They are just 1-3 against the RPI Top 50, and lack a quality road win. Right now, they should have no problems getting into the NCAA Tournament, but a loss or two this weekend could put them on the bubble. Pacific had a disappointing weekend, losing to both Santa Clara and San Francisco on the road, putting them in a tie for 8th place with Santa Clara. They would need a miracle to move into 6th place, but a win against Gonzaga would give them a lot of confidence going into the tournament.
Keys To The Game
Have a Short Memory
Gonzaga is the far more talented team in almost every game they play in the WCC, including this one. Their biggest problem is the way they play down to their competition, which was shown in their loss against San Diego. The Zags need to forget about their recent struggles, and just focus on this Tigers team that really wants a bright spot to their disappointing first season in the WCC.
Defend the Perimeter
Opponents in conference are shooting 43% from three against the Pacific Tigers. Gonzaga is one of the best shooting teams in the country, and could run away with this one if they get hot from deep. The Tigers also shoot the ball well, but if this one turns into a 3-point contest, the advantage goes to Gonzaga.
Mark Few is one of the best in the country at turning his team around after a loss. Before last weekend, Gonzaga had only lost consecutive games in conference once since Few took the helm in 1999. Their backs are against the wall now, and that is when Gonzaga plays its best. Pacific will come out firing, but Gonzaga is simply the better team, and that will show on Thursday. Gonzaga 78, Pacific 67.