The Gonzaga Bulldogs head out on the road to finish out the regular conference season with a trip to sunny San Diego on Thursday.
The Zags are coming off of one of the most disappointing losses in a season full of gut punches. But as bad as it may have seemed for us on Saturday night against Saint Mary's, it hardly compares to what happened to San Diego against BYU.
In one of the more bizarre games of all of college basketball this season, the Toreros lost to BYU on the road, 91-33. I repeat, 91-33. What makes this even more strange is that San Diego lost by just two points to BYU two nights before. San Diego went 0-for-20 from beyond the arc.
So there we have it. Two teams coming off of their two worst performances of the season. The stage is set for hopefully something a little bit better.
Meet the opponent
San Diego Toreros, 8-19, KenPom #278
Realistically, it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that San Diego's offense bombed that hard against BYU. The Toreros have one of the worst offenses in the entire league. Overall, their offensive efficiency is rated 92.9 by Ken Pomeroy (No. 329), they have an eFG% of 44.6 (No. 333) and hit just 27.9 of their three pointers (No. 347).
Things are just real rough for San Diego. Duda Sanadze is the leading scorer with just 11.7 points per game, and he shoots only 37.1 percent from the floor. Imagine having Silas Melson from two months ago as the go to option on your team--that is San Diego's offense. The Toreros only have two players with an ORtg higher than 100, and unfortunately for them, Cameron Neubauer and Alex Floresica don't see the floor too often.
What to watch out for
Can Gonzaga build momentum?
You never want to look past an opponent, and I'm not suggesting the Zags do that now. But this game is just a warm up for BYU, which now actually has some pretty large implications for Gonzaga's NCAA Tournament hopes. Going on the road and winning in Provo isn't something teams just wake up and decide to do. Gonzaga is going to need to have some good momentum going into BYU, and San Diego will hopefully provide the perfect back drop for that. The Toreros can't be feeling too good after their last loss, and we know that GU feels like trash at the moment. Both teams have weight to unload off the shoulders, and a good game on Thursday will hopefully go a long ways on Saturday.
How does the entire team respond to the Saint Mary's loss?
Against Saint Mary's, the defense looked energetic at times, but the offense sluggish, listless and unemotional, for the most part. The Zags were playing some of their best basketball as a team at the beginning of February, but things have unraveled a bit with two losses in their last three games. Even though Gonzaga's dreams of an at-large bid basically shattered with the loss to Saint Mary's, the Zags need to play each game like it is the last one of the season. There has been talk around here for Gonzaga not being tough and plenty of other team criticism about being able to roll with the punches. Well, the Zags got punched in the gut and then some last Saturday. How they respond is almost as important as the loss.