No. 2 Gonzaga Closes Out LMU Series at Home


After a narrow road sweep in the bay area including road victories at Santa Clara and San Francisco, Gonzaga returns home to play LMU for the second time and final time this season.

Last time around…

In the previous matchup on Jan. 17, GU hopped up to a 20-2 lead and despite a little Lion second wind the Zags held off largely credited to strong guard play. Gary Bell Jr. had 17 points to lead all scorers and Kevin Pangos added 16 points and six assists as four starters scored in double figures.

Although it never seemed that LMU possessed control of the game, the Lions do hold strong suits that cannot be overlooked.

What to watch for…

1. LMU’s offensive rebounding: Godwin Okonji had FIVE offensive rebounds last time around, which kept a lot of plays alive and the flame still lit contributing to LMU making the game competitive for stretches. The Lions are a slightly better offensive rebounding team than GU (283 total offensive snags on the season as opposed to Gonzaga’s 269).

2. GU’s backcourt guard shuffle: With brief flirtation of a seven-man rotation that included just Kyle Dranginis and Domantas Sabonis coming off the bench and receiving most of the rotation minutes, backup guards Silas Melson and Eric McClellan continue to show impressive spells where their efficiency for brief stints is tried.  Against Santa Clara, McClellan took many of Dranginis and even Bell’s minutes away in the second half when he took the task of face-guarding then on-fire Jared Brownridge, holding the electric guard to just 12 of his 25 points in the second half. McClellan’s defensive grit proved essential to the Zags squeaking out a victory in the Leavey Center. Look for the Vanderbilt transfer to get some face time guarding All-WCC caliber Evan Payne.

3. Zags experimenting with zone: GU has briefly experimented with the zone in the past weeks, and LMU is a perfect opponent to shore up defensive kinks against.

My crystal ball…

After the first round of conference match-ups, the team on top usually gets bullied in every single matchup, turning all road games into mediocre teams’ Final Four game.  Such was the case with Santa Clara and San Francisco, both hosting the season’s lone sellout against Gonzaga.  LMU may not be as well rounded as either of the aforementioned, but keep that in mind if they hold with GU early.

The third to last place team in the conference, there is no doubt that despite the gutsy performances the Lions have mustered, the results will heavily favor the Zags.

Game info…

When: February 12, 6:00 p.m.

Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, WA

Most recent line: GONZ -23.5