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Gonzaga vs. San Francisco game preview: Just four games left

The Zags get a home stand this week as they continue their attempt to finish the season undefeated.

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

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have four more games left on the regular season schedule, and the WCC gods have obliged with three of those four games at home. Up first, the San Francisco Dons on Thursday night.

Gonzaga is coming off the peak of the season, downing the Saint Mary’s Gaels in Moraga in yet another consistent and thorough effort from tip off to the final whistle. The game in Moraga was one of the biggest trap games left on the schedule for this miracle season, and the Zags handled it like they have handled all their tough games this season: with a win.

San Francisco is having itself a rather nice season, and split the difference with Santa Clara and BYU last week. Considering how the WCC scheduled the Dons, it is impressive that they have a plus .500 record in conference play right now. Remember, earlier in January, the Dons drew Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU all in a row. Since that downer streak, San Francisco has won seven of their last nine conference games.

Meet the opponent

San Francisco Dons, 18-9, KenPom #111

Although the Dons don’t average a lot of points, they are one of the better shooting teams in the conference. But only if they are close to the basket. As a team, San Francisco shoots nearly 54 percent from two, but only 36.4 percent from three and a rather dismal 61.1 percent from the free throw line. As a result, their effective field goal percentage, although good, only stands at 54 percent as well.

But when that goes cold, it is a struggle for San Francisco. In losses against BYU the Dons shot just 20 percent from inside the arc, which completely rendered the offense useless. Against Saint Mary’s, the two point shots held their end of the bargain, but the three pointers (22 percent) and an insane lack of free throws (one attempt) buried the offense.

There is offense that is lurking, however. Freshman guard Jordan Rathino dropped 20 points on Gonzaga earlier this season, and senior guard Ronnie Boyce III averages nearly 14 points per game. This game should be relatively easy for the Zags, but San Francisco has been one of the closer WCC contests for Gonzaga this season.

What to watch out for

San Francisco’s defense provides a nice test.

Granted, the Zags dropped 95 points on the Dons earlier this season, San Francisco’s general claim to fame this season is its defense. They have allowed the third least points in conference play, and they do a good job at limiting the number of three pointers opposing offenses take. At home, the Zags shouldn’t have much of a problem with this, but if San Francisco can keep this close, they have a decent enough offense to be a threat.

Josh Perkins needs to bounce back.

It has now been two consecutive games where the Gonzaga guard has thrown in a stinker on the offensive end. Against Saint Mary’s, Perkins was terrible, finishing with just four points on 1-of-6 shooting with four turnovers. Against LMU, Perkins again only had four points, mainly because he attempted merely three shots.

Perkins doesn’t need to be the major scoring threat each night. He is sixth in the team on scoring after all, but he needs to do more than that. Part of what makes the Gonzaga backcourt so dangerous is how it can burn you from all angles. The Zags become a bit less scary in that regard if it is Nigel Williams-Goss dropping 30 points each night and Perkins hanging around in his shadow the whole evening.

Game info

  • Time: 6:00 pm PT
  • TV: KHQ/ROOT (Greg Heister, Dan Dickau and Richard Fox)
  • Radio: Gonzaga IMG Radio Network (Tom Hudson and Matt Santangelo)
  • Online: (out of region)