The Gonzaga Bulldogs look to rebound off a loss to SMU last weekend with their final homestand of the year as they take on the Pacific Tigers on Thursday at 6:00 pm PT.
Gonzaga looked like they were in the running to be able to take down the SMU Mustangs, but then the second half happened. A career-worst game by Kyle Wiltjer also contributed, and the Zags left Dallas without a win. The Zags are in an unfamiliar spot, still in control of the WCC but with no security blanket at all when it comes to Selection Sunday.
Pacific is coming off of consecutive losses to LMU and Pepperdine, the latter happening in overtime. It has been a rough stretch of WCC play for Pacific, who have lost five of their last six games. That lone win was a good one, however, when they knocked off BYU on the road.
Meet the opponent
Pacific Tigers, 7-17, KenPom #241
The Tigers offense isn't the strongest one, and much of it surrounds their three guards, Alec Kobre, Ray Bowles and T.J. Wallace. Last time around, in a ten-point loss to Gonzaga, Kobre was the lone force for Pacific, scoring 20 points. He failed to connect too often from beyond the arc, however, shooting just 3-of-10.
Three point shooting is a bit of an issue for Pacific. Kobre shoots 43 percent from beyond the arc, and over two-thirds of his field goal attempts are three pointers. Ilias Theodorou is the net biggest threat, shooting 43.1 percent, but he only lobs up a couple attempts per game if he is lucky. David Taylor throws up three three-point attempts per game, but is hitting just 29 percent. Wallace attempts 4.2 threes per game, but is just at 28.1 percent. Often times, it seems like the ball is launching out of the wrong pair of hands.
What to watch out for
How does Kyle Wiltjer respond?
Everyone knows Kyle Wiltjer had one of the worst games of his career against SMU on Saturday. It was just the third time this season that the big man has been held to single digit points. If the past is any indicator, perhaps Wiltjer bombing when he did is a blessing in disguise. Following just nine points against Pepperdine in December, Wiltjer averaged 28 points over his next six games. After scoring just six against Saint Mary's, he dropped 22.3 points over his next six games. The Zags are basically looking at a WCC Tournament or bust scenario right now, so they will need all cylinders firing as often as possible.
Is Silas Melson finally finding his stroke?
Melson has been having one of the biggest down years possible, and at the beginning of the season, it really looked like he was trying to press too hard and force shots in. After hunkering down, watching his minutes dwindle, Melson has appeared back in the lineup with a solid role in play, and it looks like his offense is finally answering the call. Over his past five games, he is averaging 11.4 points per game, and most importantly, he is shooting 47.6 percent from three point range during that time. Just like Wiltjer above, the Zags need everyone working together, and having Melson work is almost like having that ace up our sleeve, because for much of the season opposing coaches haven't really had to plan around him.