After a closer than it should be call in a win over Portland on Saturday, the Gonzaga Bulldogs finally return home for their first conference game in the Kennel during 2015.
The 12-point win over Portland was one of those games where the score was a bit closer than the game actually was. Gonzaga raced off to a big early lead, but Portland did as Portland does and slowly, but surely, chiseled it away. In the end, the Zags were able to pull away thanks to Kevin Pangos and Przemek Karnoski dropping 21 points each.
It has been a different story for San Francisco. The Dons have lost three-straight conference games. First it was a loss at Saint Mary's, then San Diego squeaked by and finally, the BYU machine thrashed the Dons. Rolling into Spokane isn't going to be what the doctor ordered for Rex Walters and company.
Meet the opponent
San Francisco Dons, 7-9, KenPom #148
In terms of battle of the front courts, this will be an entertaining game to watch. Gonzaga still has the height advantage on San Francisco, but the Dons boast one of the better front court combos in junior forward Mark Tollefsen and senior forward Kruize Perkins. Tollefsen leads the team with 15.1 points and Pinkins is right behind at 15 points a game. Tollefsen does the offensive thing at an incredibly effective rate. He led the WCC in true shooting percentage last season and is fourth in the conference this season at 62 percent.
Pinkins isn't much of a slouch down low either. His field goal percentage of 51.9 percent is fifth-highest in the conference. He is rated fourth in the conference in player efficiency rating at 28.2. He is also aggressive on the offensive boards and is second in the WCC with 42 offensive rebounds.
Freshman point guard Devin Watson has started the past two games at point for the Dons. It has come with varying degrees of success. Against San Diego, he finished with four points, zero assists and two turnovers. Against BYU, things were a bit better. Watson finished with 13 points, four assists and one turnover in that game. Other than that production, it falls on Tim Derksen to produce in the backcourt.
The four factors
Stats courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.
|eFG%||57.8 (7)||52.1 (55)|
|TO%||17.2 (44)||18.6 (109)|
|OR%||37.6 (28)||34.0 (88)|
|FTR||36.1 (198)||40.2 (110)|
What to watch out for
San Francisco and the three point shot.
The Dons shoot the three ball well, hitting 38.3 percent as a team. That is good for No. 43 in the nation and it is something Gonzaga will have to keep an eye on. For the most part, the perimeter defense that was the bane of our collective existence has improved greatly, but the Dons will test that with some great three point shooters. Derksen roams the arc and hits a good percentage of those shots. Derksen hits 48 percent of his threes, and 100 percent of those attempts come off of assists, according to Hoop-Math.com. Both Tollefsen and Pinkins stretch the defense and aren't afraid to take the three -- and unfortunately for whomever is guarding Tollefsen, he hits his to the tune of 43 percent.
In case you missed it: don't watch out for Eric McClellan.
McClellan was all set to make his debut and then suffered a setback this week. That means it'll be another long game for Pangos running the point. Watson is a pretty aggressive defender, averaging 2.0 steals per 40 minutes and will be hassling Pangos for much of the game. Chris Adams, the starting two guard for the Dons, isn't known for his defense whatsoever. Gonzaga would be wise to exploit that matchup.
Kyle Wiltjer is going to score a lot of points.
Wiltjer hasn't had too many off games this season, but he defintely had one against Portland. Wiltjer went 3-for-10 from the field and was limited to eight points. Games like that have been few and far between this season. Ignoring the game against St. Joseph's (because he only played 15 minutes in that blowout), Wiltjer has been limited to eight points three times this season. The previous two times, he responded with games of 20 and 24 points. At home, Wiltjer has been on a different level, shooting 61.4 percent from the floor and 55 percent from beyond the arc.
Time: 6 p.m. PT
TV: KHQ/ROOT Sports
Radio: AM 1510 KGA (Spokane), AM 880 KIXI (Seattle), AM 1360 KUIK (Portland)