#3 Gonzaga to Take on Pesky Pepperdine


You read the title correctly.  Gonzaga is ranked third in the nation.  I would like to take a moment to thank Duke, Louisville, and Wisconsin for allowing this ranking to be possible.  Now we just need Kentucky and Virginia to follow the trend and drop a game.

Despite all of this movement in the polls, the Zags need to remain focused on the task at hand: beating a Pepperdine team that has upset good teams in the WCC.  On January 8, the Waves beat BYU 67-61 in Provo.  No one saw this coming.  Pepperdine is 4-1 in the WCC, with their only loss coming against St. Mary’s in Moraga.  Gonzaga will not be able to take it easy on the Waves at all when their travel to Malibu.

Dec 13, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Pepperdine Waves forward Stacy Davis (5) drives to the basket against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half at Wells-Fargo Arena. Sun Devils defeated the Waves 81-74 Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Pepperdine is led by junior forward, Stacy Davis.  Davis is averaging 15.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.  These are all career highs for Davis.  It will be key for Gonzaga to shut Davis down.  Another junior forward, Jett Raines is having breakout season for the Waves.  He is averaging 10.6 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game.

The Waves have great post players just like the Zags.  I think that Gonzaga’s post players will be able to shut the Waves down.  Gonzaga’s big men just seem to be bigger, stronger, and simply a step ahead of the rest of the post players in the WCC.  As of late, Przemek Kanowski is proving all of the critics wrong.  I am expecting him to have yet another big game.

The Zag offense is often the topic of conversation, but the defense is having a stellar year.  The addition of Byron Wesley and the health of Gary Bell Jr. have been especially helpful with this.  Eric McClellan will also be influential in this great defense once he is able to play.

Aside from great offense and defense, the Zags are also one of the best in the country in the transition game.  Slipper Still Fits had a great article that has a more in depth explanation about this that I definitely recommend checking out.

I expect Gonzaga to beat the Waves, but it will be a close one.  The Zags will have to play at their highest level or they will suffer the consequences.