The Gonzaga Bulldogs head to the 'Bu with a chance to hand the Pepperdine Waves their second home loss of the season. The Zags thwwwacckkeddd (per the Free Ira Brown guys) Pepperdine in the conference opener back in December, but should face a sterner test against the Waves this weekend.
The Zags are in control of their WCC Regular Season title hopes following BYU's victory over the team from Moraga on Thursday night, and will be looking to build on the momentum generated over the last week.
Meet the Opponent
Pepperdine Waves, 14-9; Kenpom #128; RPI #118
Other than an ill-fated trip to the Pacific Northwest in December, Pepperdine has played relatively well in conference play. They've had some very Pepperdiney losses (see games against Portland x2 and Santa Clara), but the Waves have also beaten BYU and that team from Moraga. Pepperdine's defense isn't as good as it was last season, but look for them to slow down the pace of the game and run shooters off the three-point line.
Pepperdine senior Stacy Davis would probably be the first to say that he's a bit disappointed with the season he's having. His scoring average has dropped from 15.7ppg in 2014-15, to 14.6ppg this year. At 44.1% on the season, Davis is having the worst shooting performance of his collegiate career (likely due to an increase in 3-point attempts). However, Davis is coming off his best game of the season in which he posted 27 points an 13 rebounds in a narrow loss to Portland on Thursday night; and, he won't be fazed by having to match up against Gonzaga's two-headed monster of Wiltjer and Sabonis.
Despite the downturn in Davis' offensive efficiency, Pepperdine's attack has improved from a year ago. Senior Jett Raines (coming off a career high 27 points against Portland) is having the best year of his career, and Lamond Murray Jr. (friend of Drake) has more than doubled his scoring average with a team-leading 15.6 ppg.
While the front court has been carrying much of the scoring load for the Waves this year, the Pepperdine player to watch in this game will be Junior point guard Jeremy Major. Major scored 21 points in the season's earlier matchup against the Zags, and will be looking to rebound after a poor performance against Portland which saw him finish the game without a single point.
Most of you will recall that Gonzaga barely pulled out the win in their last trip to Malibu. The Zags arrived more than an hour late to that game after getting stuck in traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway (shocker), and then proceeded to throw up clunker after clunker from the free throw line. Hopefully, Mark Few scheduled some extra free throw shooting practice and an earlier departure to Firestone Fieldhouse this time around.