If you look at the results of the two games last week, it would look like the Gonzaga Bulldogs didn't have many problems. A quicker look reveals they had a couple, so it is nice that the Loyola Marymount Lions are rolling into town.
Gonzaga came away with double-digit wins over Santa Clara and San Francisco last week to continue the best season (record wise) in school history. They also trailed at halftime in both games before taking over to win. Kyle Wiltjer went bonkers last week, scoring 22 and 29 points to remind everyone he is one of the better scorers in the league.
LMU split the difference last week with a win over San Diego and a loss to BYU at home. The defense wasn't present against BYU as Kyle Collinsworth dropped 23 points, Tyler Haws 22 and Skyler Halford scoring 18 of his own. Things probably won't change much against Gonzaga for LMU. Gonzaga has won 11 games in a row and 40 of the last 43 matchups.
Earlier this season, four of five Gonzaga starters scored in double digits as Gonzaga jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
Meet the opponent
Loyola Marymount Lions, 8-17, KenPom #219
The Lions have a few scorers on the team. The problem with the offense is that after those few scorers, there aren't a lot of other options on the table. But, those few that they have are enough to give the occasional opposing teams a few fits. Evan Payne is one of the better scorers in the league and his 17.8 points per game are a team high. He is the first player off the bench for Mike Dunlap, but he puts up minutes like a starter, often times seeing the court for 30-plus minutes per game.
Payne is a prolific scorer, but like a lot of the LMU squad, he does his damage from within the three point arc. That isn't to say that he isn't afraid to take a three, as he does average nearly four per game. The Lions, as a team, are pretty decent at the three point shot, they just don't take to many. LMU shoots 36.8 percent from beyond the arc, which is good for No. 74 in the nation, but they have just 345 attempts, good for No. 311 in the nation.
The Lions do have Marin Mornar down low, which can present a few problems for Gonzaga players in the pain. The junior forward has really stepped it up this year and is averaging 10.7 points, but most importantly for the Lions, he also averages 1.6 blocks per game -- good for second in the WCC.
Ayodeji Egbeyemi rounds out the big play makers for the Lions. The senior guard averages 10.1 points per game and has busted out multiple times this season, including 20 points against DePaul and 22 points against Portland.
The four factors
All stats courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.
|eFG%||59.0 (3)||48.3 (204)|
|TO%||16.6 (35)||21.3 (294)|
|OR%||36.2 (30)||34.7 (61)|
|FTR||38.1 (153)||34.9 (239)|
What to watch out for
Force LMU into turnovers.
The Lions are a bit better with it, but LMU struggles with ball control.in the past five games LMU has lowered it to just a shade under 10 turnovers a game. But earlier int he year, against UC-Riverside they turned the ball over 22 times. Against Nebraska and Depaul, 17 times. The Lions are the second worst team in the conference with ball control, and that doesn't bode well against Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are great at clogging passing lanes, and although they don't necessarily play the most aggressive defense, Gonzaga can force a lot of dumb errors. If LMU isn't handling the ball pressure well, they won't have a prayer.
Keep LMU off the offensive glass.
The Lions are the best team in the conference at cleaning up and getting second chances. Both Godwin Okonji and Marin Mornar are fantastic offensive rebounders -- Okonji especially. He has more offensive rebounds than he does defensive rebounds on the season. Gonzaga has the height advantage down low by a long shot, but Prezmek Karnowski, Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis will have their hands full trying to box out.
Let Kyle Wiltjer take over.
Wiltjer had a stellar week last week and has pretty slowly and surely developed into the guy you want taking that final shot. At times, his shot attempts appear a bit unorthodox (especially close to the rim), but the ball always seems to manage to go in. Nobody has really been able to figure out how to defend Wiltjer in conference play, where he averages 16.1 points per game with a true shooting percentage of 61.4 percent against WCC teams.
Time: 6 p.m. PT
TV: KHQ/ROOT Sports
Radio: AM 1510 KGA (Spokane), AM 880 KIXI (Seattle), AM 1360 KUIK (Portland)