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Gonzaga vs. Portland 2017 game preview: Zags go to their home away from home

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Alec Wintering and the Pilots play host to the Zags.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at San Francisco Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs road swing continues as they head back to Spokane with a quick stop in Portland to take on the Portland Pilots on Saturday night.

The Zags are coming off a 95-80 win over the San Francisco Dons, led largely in part by Nigel Williams-Goss’ best night in a Gonzaga uniform. The Zag guard finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and just one turnover. Jordan Mathews added 16 and Killian Tillie added 12.

Portland is hoping to rebound from an absolutely dismal loss against the Santa Clara Broncos. Portland finished the averaging just 0.70 points per possession and only scored 42 points in the loss. Jazz Johnson had a respectable night for the Pilots, but overall it was a game to completely forget.

Meet the opponent

Portland Pilots, 9-6, KenPom #186

The Pilots are one of the more interesting teams in the league. They have multiple big time scorers in Alec Wintering, Jazz Johnson, and Gabe Taylor. In fact, if you had to pick the best three players on any team in the conference, those three should be on a few lists.

Unfortunately, the scoring completely drops off the planet after that. D’Marques Tyson chips in close to 10 points, but everything after that is just spot minute contributions. New coach Terry Porter has had to lean on his starting five relentlessly—Wintering, Taylor and Johnson all average more than 35 minutes per game.

Portland loves to shoot the long ball. Tyson averages over six attempts per game, and Johnson takes five. Both players can burn the Zags from outside, and considering the Pilots don’t have the talent down low to compete with the Gonzaga front court, expect to see a shooting clinic from the Pilots. That said, keep your eye on Wintering. Few guards are as good at getting to the hoop as he is, and he will slice and dice the Zags’ defense if they fall asleep.

What to watch out for

Can Josh Perkins revert back to non-conference Josh Perkins please?

In his past two games, Perkins has averaged 5.5 points off of 26.6 percent shooting and 4.5 turnovers. His performance against San Francisco was overall and ugly affair, finishing with six assists but negating that with five turnovers. Perkins was rather effective during November, and December was a quieter month for him. Turnovers can still be an issue for Perkins, and it is something he needs to get out of his system. Gonzaga is as dangerous as any team when both Williams-Goss and Perkins are operating out of the back court. But careless passes by Perkins cancel out much of that benefit.

Can Killian Tillie build on the success against San Francisco?

The Gonzaga freshman had a great game against the Dons, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds off 6-of-7 shooting. Tillie has all of the tools to make a huge impact during his time at Gonzaga, but he can also elevate his x-factor right now. Tillie has a relentless hustle on the defensive boards and is one of the team’s best rebounders. His contributions show when he is on the court: he owns the third-highest box score plus minus on the team. He also made a big enough impact in his 20 minutes that Mark Few should find some ways to get him on the court. Tillie can definitely be the glue guy on this team going forward.

Game info

  • Time: 7:00 pm
  • TV: KAYU/ROOT (Tom Glasgow and Francis Williams)
  • Radio: Gonzaga IMG Radio Network (Tom Hudson and Matt Santangelo)
  • Online: WatchESPN/TheW.tv (in select markets)