Gonzaga is two games away from another undefeated run through WCC play. But first, San Diego stands in the way as the final homestand of regular conference play begins on Thursday.
The headline reads two games away from undefeated play, but against Saint Mary's, that almost wasn't the case. Luckily, the Zags have the ultimate trump card in the WCC with Kyle Wiltjer, who scored approximately 900 points last week to guide Gonzaga to victory.
San Diego just had its one game last week with its travel buddy BYU. Things went a bit rough for the Toreros. Tyler Haws went off with 28 points, and although San Diego almost held BYU to a human 46.9 percent field goal percentage, the difference at the free throw line was the difference in the game. San Diego went 11-of-18 and BYU was 23-of-27 from the charity stripe.
Meet the opponent
San Diego Toreros, 14-14, KenPom #108
San Diego has such a high ranking by Ken Pomeroy courtesy of the defense, which slows the pace down in the game and forces opponents to play a style they usually aren't used to. Against Gonzaga, that has worked -- every now and then. The issue is that the Toreros aren't built to be able to come back from any sort of huge deficit. Outside of senior guard Johnny Dee and his propensity to shoot from the outside, San Diego lacks any sort of offensive threat. Dee averages 17.8 points per game, and after that it is Christopher Anderson with just 8.1 points per game.
What coach Billy Grier tries to do is grind down opposing offenses with hard and aggressive defense. On any given night, San Diego will throw out up to ten players to attack on the defensive end. On the perimeter, you have to get the ball past Anderson, who is currently ranked fourth all-time in the WCC in steals. Then, once you get the ball past him, you have junior forward Jito Kok, who very well could end his career as the all-time WCC leader in blocked shots.
It is the only way San Diego can make it work, and it has worked 14 times this season. It probably won't work against Gonzaga, however, or at least we all hope it won't.
What to watch out for
Don't look forward to Tent City on Friday yet.
That isn't in regards to the recent little *scandal* involving the college students, overconsumption and a heavy-handed hammer from the administration. Saturday night, Gonzaga and all of Spokane will say farewell to Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell (and I guess Byron Wesley as well). Saturday night, Gonzaga will play BYU in what is one of the finer ways to end a potentially undefeated season. There is a lot to look forward to on Saturday night, so don't look past San Diego on Thursday night. The Toreros played Gonzaga incredibly tight in Spokane last season.
Enjoy the three-point spectacular.
This game showcases Johnny Dee (career three-pointers made: 332) against Kevin Pangos (career three-pointers made: 304). Both players are officially the record holders at their respective schools, and even though neither player will ever catch Kevin Foster's WCC record, it'll still be fun to watch. Both players will go down in WCC history as some of the better three-point shooters the conference has ever seen and it will be a blast to watch the two players trade buckets throughout the night.
Time: 8 p.m. PT
Radio: AM 1510 KGA (Spokane), AM 880 KIXI (Seattle), AM 1360 KUIK (Portland)