Quite a few people in the Gonzaga community weren't too excited when Pacific joined the West Coast Conference in time for the 2013 season to start. It was an interesting take, because in the previous decade before joining in, the Tigers had been to the NCAA Tournament four times. Things were looking alright for the Tigers, but once again, conference play is making it tough for Pacific.
Gonzaga is coming off a decisive victory over Saint Mary's in Spokane. The billing got the usual hype, but once the ball hit the court it was pretty clear who the better team was. And by that, I mean once the ball hit the court in the second half. Gonzaga struggled to extend any sort of lead in the first half despite the defense applying tactics we haven't seen since Bret "The Hitman" Hart. In the end, it was yet another big win for the Bulldogs who have now won their three conference games at home by an average of 24.6 points.
Things were looking alright for Pacific through the non-conference slate. For the second consecutive year, however, the Tigers are struggling mightily in conference play. Pacific is coming off a buzzer-beating loss at Portland. Pacific tied the game with a three-pointer from Dulani Robinson, but Alec Wintering dashed the dream with a buzzer beating three.
Meet the opponent
Pacific Tigers, 10-10, KenPom #222
The Pacific Tigers are one of the younger teams in college basketball. So although they might not be too good this year, there is a good chance this team gels nicely into something more competitive. Pacific has one senior on the roster - forward Gabriel Aquirre. After that, it is a speckling of juniors mixed with a whole mash of roleplaying sophomore and freshmen.
Guards T.J. Wallace and Dulani Robinson lead the charge. Wallace averages 13.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while Robinson chips in 10.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Both are capable three point shooters and lead the charge on a roster of kids that like to huck it up from beyond the arc. The Tigers aren't the greatest outside shooting team, but they throw out four different players who have attempted at least 50 threes this season.
Down low, things get a little rough. Aquirre stands 6'10 and 7' sophomore center Sami Eleraky is there to help out. But the Tigers usually run out a pretty short lineup compared to what Gonzaga offers. How they deal with Gonzaga's size will be interesting.
The four factors
All statistics courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.
|eFG%||58.5 (4)||48.6 (190)|
|TO%||16.5 (28)||20.3 (220)|
|OR%||36.1 (39)||34.6 (69)|
|FTR||35.9 (214)||44.2 (38)|
What to watch out for
Foul trouble -- on both sides of the ball.
Pacific likes to drive to the hoop -- a lot. They draw a ton of fouls and their 471 free throw attempts are good for No. 17 in the nation. Unfortunately, for Pacific they don't hit a lot of those free throws. The team shoots 63 percent from the charity stripe, which is just No. 323 in the nation. If the Gonzaga bigs get into early foul trouble, then this game gets on a much more level playing field.
What is weird, however, is that Pacific also fouls a ton. The Tigers have committed 453 fouls as a team, which is the third most in the nation. They aren't able to turn this supposed defensive intensity into anything worth the pressure. They rank near the very bottom in the nation in steals and don't have the height to block. And that leads us to our next point...
Stretch the legs, this is going to be a slow game.
Pacific plays a slowed down temp, ranked No. 291 in the nation. A lot of this comes from the excessive fouling on both sides of the ball. This will be a slow game. Most likely, if Gonzaga is doing what it should be doing, this game won't even be close. That also means this has the chance to be a very boring game. That isn't to say that slow games are boring at all times. I like a pitchers duel as much as the next person. But Pacific's defense isn't up to par to force a team to play slowly. The offense moves like a glacier and the defense will get run over by Gonzaga.
Theoretically, that means it is time for #dunkwatch to continue.
Connor Griffin has seen the court in four games for the Bulldogs in conference play, but he has zero shot attempts. Free the best Coach Few!!!
Kevin Pangos' record watch continues.
Pangos hit a couple more threes on Thursday night to bring him within three three pointers to tie Blake Stepp for the school's all-time record. Pangos sits at 285 career threes and Stepp has 288. Pangos has played in 122 games over his collegiate career and has hit at least three three-pointers in 42 of them. It is definitely doable.
Time: 5 p.m. PT
TV: KHQ/ROOT Sports
Radio: AM 1510 KGA (Spokane), AM 880 KIXI (Seattle), AM 1360 KUIK (Portland)