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Gonzaga vs. LMU game preview: Let's hope traffic isn't bad again

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The Zags needed every bit of energy to push past a surprising Pepperdine on Thursday. Hopefully LMU is an easier test.

Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga was late to Pepperdine's home court because of traffic problems. Let's hope the same thing doesn't happen against LMU.

It would be too easy to blame Gonzaga's near-loss to Pepperdine on the traffic. But let's do it anyway! Just kidding. Gonzaga looked great on the offensive end except for one, huge, glaring issue. The Bulldogs left 19 points floating away from the charity stripe as Gonzaga shot an thoroughly terrible 14-of-33 from the free throw line. That meant what should have at least been a 10-point victory was a very narrow two-point win.

Everything was easier for LMU on Thursday against the Portland Pilots as the Lions garnered their first conference victory. Ayodeji Egbeyemi dropped 22 points and Marin Mornar added 21 points. Evan Payne, LMU's normal line of offense, came off the bench and was limited to seven points.

Meet the opponent

Loyola Marymount Lions, 5-13, KenPom #267

Loyola Marymount is on some hard times right now. The team essentially should be called Evan Payne and others. Payne, the sophomore guard is one of the most heavily used players in the country and is third in the WCC with 19.2 points per game. In the last game, Mike Dunlap brought him off the bench in an attempt to jumpstart the offense and provide some bench firepower. Payne only scored seven points, but the Lions got offense from other players.

The issue with the plan is that the Lions aren't a heavy scoring team. Their 63.8 points per game ranks No. 272 in the nation. After Payne, no other player on the team averages double digit points (although Egbeyemi is close at 9.7 points per game).

Overall, the Lions can be a decent shooting team. From the outside, they hit 36.4 percent of their threes, led by Matt Hayes shooting 44.9 percent from beyond the arc. The big issue is if the Lions can even get the ball out there. They are one of the most turnover prone teams in the nation, and have turned the ball over a total of 270 times, good for No. 331 in the nation.

The four factors

Stats courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.

Gonzaga LMU
eFG% 58.3 (4) 47.8 (217)
OR% 37.1 (28) 34.2 (76)
TO% 16.2 (26) 23.3 (327)
FTR 36.5 (191) 37.8 (155)
Win index 96 4

What to watch out for

Gonzaga's defense is going to make it impossible for LMU to score.

This is where things are going to get ugly for LMU. Gonzaga's interior defense is solid with Przemek Karnowski, Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis roaming the paint. LMU is also a terrible shooting team close to the basket. The Lions hit just 46.4 percent of their two point attempts, which ranks No. 247 in the nation. Gonzaga holds opponents to less than that. LMU's interior offense is going to go nowhere, which means they'll need to rely on the outside shot. Gonzaga's perimeter defense is still pretty solid, and will be even more so if they don't have to worry about crowding the paint.

Gonzaga won't be able to just throw the ball to the rim and score at will.

At the onset of the game against Pepperdine, the game plan was clear: get the ball down low early and often. It worked, at the beginning. The Gonzaga big men led the charge in the victory and looked like men amongst boys for much of the game. Things will be a bit different against LMU. Marin Mornar is second in the WCC with 1.7 blocks per game. Patson Siame is pretty good at swatting balls as well. LMU is one of the better shot blocking teams in the conference and that presence down low will force Gonzaga to hit some open shots. Luckily, Gonzaga has plenty of players that can do that.

Gonzaga will hit their free throws.

That is a given. The game against Pepperdine was terrible and won't happen again.

Game info:

Time: 1 p.m. PT

TV: KHQ/ROOT Sports

Online: TheW.tv

Radio: AM 1510 KGA (Spokane), AM 880 KIXI (Seattle), AM 1360 KUIK (Portland)