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Gonzaga vs. LMU game preview: Bringing the show on the road

Can things get any better after the demolition of Saint Mary’s?

NCAA Basketball: Loyola Marymount at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs escape the snow and head down to southern California to take on the Loyola Marymount Lions on Thursday, Feb. 14.

In case you forgot, the Zags had one of the best weeks of the season, beating San Francisco and Saint Mary’s by beyond sizable margins. The juggernaut is rolling ahead full steam, and although LMU and San Diego are both having decent years, it doesn’t look like either team can muster enough energy to topple the Zags.

LMU’s year has a nice cherry with the Georgetown win, but their record hides the fact that the Lions have generally lost to the better competition. Last week was another prime example, with LMU narrowly losing at home to San Diego, but turning around and easily handling the rather miserable Portland Pilots in Portland.

Meet the opponent

LMU Lions, 17-8, KenPom #137

LMU’s offense isn’t that great, but their defense is one of the better in the WCC, ranked No. 74 by Ken Pomeroy. That is largely based off their ability to force turnovers and limit offensive rebounding. The first time around, LMU was rather successful at the former, forcing 16 Gonzaga turnovers in an 18 point loss.

Here lies the problem and why there should be an overall lack of hope surrounding this game. LMU, despite forcing 16 turnovers, still lost by 18 points. Senior guard James Batemon can score with the rest of the best in the WCC, but unfortunately, the rest of his teammates cannot. LMU’s defense might give the Zags a bit of fits, but their offense doesn’t have the luster to make this a competitive game.

What to watch out for

Perkins assist record watch.

Gonzaga Bulldogs senior point guard Josh Perkins will not break the school’s career assists record tonight, considering he needs 21 to best Matt Santangelo’s record. Over the past four games, Perkins is averaging eight assists per, so a good showing tomorrow night means this record for certain will fall next week.

Minutes for Filip Petrusev and Jeremy Jones.

At the beginning of the season, we saw quality time from the freshman center and the senior do-everything player. When Killian Tillie returned, both Petrusev and Jones watched their minutes basically evaporate. Now, with Tillie out again due to injury, it is time to get the two players up and running, because the Zags are going to need their contributions come March. Petrusev, although a bit raw around the edges, is fundamentally sound down low and can stretch out to hit a three-pointer. Jones is one of the unsung heroes of this squad, and his defense is as good as anyone’s. Losing Tillie hurts, but knowing that Petrusev and Jones can fill in the gaps eases the pain a bit.