After a far too close for comfort contest against San Diego this past Saturday, Gonzaga looks to regroup and find their dominance again as they welcome Pepperdine to the McCarthey Athletic Center. This will be the second matchup of the season for the two programs as they met in early January in Malibu. The Zags won that game by a score of 78-62. Since then, Pepperdine has struggled mightily. The Waves have gone 2-6 with their only two victories coming against the cellar dwellers of the conference in LMU and Portland.
On the other end of the spectrum, Gonzaga has largely owned the West Coast Conference this season. They currently hold a 8-0 record in conference play and have seldom been tested. On Saturday night, however, Bill Grier's Toreros nearly brought the Zags down from cloud nine as a last second three point attempt was blocked by Elias Harris to give Gonzaga the win. San Diego partially caught the Zags sleeping but also did a nice job simply outworking the Bulldogs. In the second half, USD outscored Gonzaga by a score of 36-29 and it took a few clutch plays near the end by Kelly Olynyk and David Stockton to propel Mark Few's club to the win.
Following that game, it will be interesting to see how the Zags play Pepperdine. In the first game, Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris combined for 34 points and dominated the action. With that said, the game stayed pretty tight up until the seven minute mark when the Bulldogs started running away with it. One of the major factors in that game was the fact that Gonzaga looked like a tired team. After all, they had just came off a two week stretch the included games against Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.
In tonight's game, in the friendly confines of the McCarthey Athletic Center, I would look for a big Gonzaga win. The San Diego game seems like more of an aberration than the start of a trend and I would anticipate Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris putting up similar, if not better, figures tonight against the Waves. With Kansas and Florida both losing this week, the Zags have a great chance to get their foot in the top five in the country and I would expect them to take their first step towards that tonight.