Gonzaga vs. Pacific 2014 game preview: Bulldogs need to right the ship

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Kicking off the last week of the regular season.

So far, the one game at a time mentality hasn't worked for the Bulldogs. But with a back almost up against a cliff, that is the only line of thinking that is really worth anything. Gonzaga takes on Pacific in its third straight road game still in search of that magic win to clinch the WCC regular season championship and a top seed in the WCC Tournament. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. PT and is broadcast nationally on ESPNU.

Getting just one more win is of the utmost importance to Gonzaga. Virtually every bubble watch across the Internet has less than kind things to say about the Bulldogs tournament resume. A top seed, which guarantees a much easier path through the WCC Tournament is exactly what Gonzaga needs. There is no sense in leaving Gonzaga's rather generic profile to the selection committee, so just take care of business in Las Vegas. Before that happens, however, Gonzaga needs to finally take care of business to close out the season. Get that elusive win and be able to take at least half of a breath before facing Saint Mary's on Saturday.

Meet the opponent

Pacific Tigers (14-13), Ken Pom #148, RPI #125

Pacific enters the game in a bit of a slide of its own, having lost the past three games. The Tigers are returning home, but home hasn't exactly been a safehaven this season. In conference play, Pacific is 3-4 at home. There is a good reason for that as well. Pacific has struggled to score, especially in conference play. Guard Andrew Bock and Sama Taku aren't the most frightening of outside threats, and the best overall player is 6'8 senior forward Tony Gill. Gill averages 11.4 points off of 51 percent shooting. He has some range on that jumper of his, hitting 38 percent of his threes and usually draining at least one per game.

This middle of the road offense constantly gets buried by the outside shot, and that has been Pacific's downfall in a multitude of games this year. In conference play, opponents hit 43 percent of their threes, the worst mark in the conference. In a 15 point loss to San Diego earlier in the month, the Toreros drained nine threes. When the Bulldogs faced the Tigers at home, Gonzaga drained 10-of-13 from beyond the arc.

What to watch out for

Pacific's lineup is one that the has a hard time matching up with Gonzaga. The Tigers lack the size up front and the defensive awareness from their guards to stop any sort of inside-out game forming.In the meeting earlier in the year, Gonzaga raced out to a 46-25 lead at halftime and never looked back. It'll be tough to expect that to happen again for a multitude of reasons. Number one: the Bulldogs had an effective field goal rate of 82 percent in that game after hitting 69 percent from the floor and 10-of-13 from beyond the arc. Number two: the Bulldog's offense has been a bit sporadic as of late.

As much as Gonzaga's offense has struggled as of late, the Bulldogs can take solace that they haven't been as bad as Pacific has. Pacific has posted three of its four lowest point totals this season in the past three games, and has done so in a pretty bad fashion. In a loss against Santa Clara, the Tigers hit just 32 percent from the floor.

Against San Diego, the Bulldogs' frontcourt tried to carry the team to victory kicking and screaming. David Stockton, Kevin Pangos and Kyle Dranginis all didn't pull their weight. Despite the recent struggles in the past two games, Dower has been automatic when on the floor. One Bulldog, pick any Bulldog, just raise your hand and tell coach to put you in. The pieces are there for this team to coast to an easy victory, but those same pieces have been there the past two games and the result has gone awry. Just one game at a time...

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