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Gonzaga vs. San Diego game preview: A tough road contest awaits

San Diego is finally at full strength.

NCAA Basketball: San Diego at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have two tougher than average road contests left on the regular season schedule, and the first one is tomorrow as they face the San Diego Toreros.

The Bulldogs played in their closest contest of WCC play on Thursday, beating LMU 73-60, a score much further away from how tightly the Lions played. Rui Hachimura finished with 22 points and Brandon Clarke added 17.

San Diego nearly pulled one away from BYU on Thursday, eventually losing in overtime, 88-82. It was one of the more wild finishes in conference play this season, but a gassed Toreros squad just could not stop TJ Haws, who finished with 35 points. The loss puts San Diego on the wrong side of the win column, now 5-6 in WCC play.

Meet the opponent

San Diego Toreros, 16-10, KenPom #91

There is one massive difference between San Diego when the Zags beat them by only 16 points at home and now: senior guard Olin Carter III is healthy, and he is scoring 16 points per game. In the first go around against the Toreros, their second leading scorer was out with an injury. With Carter, the Toreros can supplement the Isaiah’s (Wright and Pineiro) with another solid scorer. The question, of course, is will that be enough to topple the mighty Gonzaga machine?

San Diego’s defense does one thing incredibly well—limit offensive rebounds. This aspect, on its own, isn’t enough for San Diego to win, but they are at home this time around. The crowd in San Diego will be fired up, and remember, the first time around, it took some time for Gonzaga to shake San Diego, who led for the first seven minutes the last contest.

What to watch out for

Limit the damage of Isaiah Pineiro.

The senior forward and the leading scorer for the Toreros brutalized the Zags last time around, scoring 30 points. Carter is going to provide quite a boost of added offense, and that makes San Diego a more dangerous squad. The Zags honestly should not have any trouble containing the Toreros, the Zags’ defense has just looked too good as of late. But San Diego is one of the few teams that was able to score against Gonzaga semi-consistently.

Attack the offensive glass relentlessly.

The Zags’ offense is apex. It is ranked No. 1 by Ken Pomeroy, and the one minute room for improvement is around the offensive glass. Since San Diego is an effective defensive rebounding squad, a strong showing by the Zags here is something we can actually takeaway.

Play better than Thursday please.

Not every game is going to be your perfect game, and Thursday was the best example. If the Zags show up like they did the other night on Saturday, it’ll be a different story. San Diego and LMU both run good defenses, and the difference is the Toreros have enough actual scorers to make a difference in the game. San Diego just lost a heartbreaker at home to BYU and the fans will be out looking for blood. The road environment is getting any easier, and the Zags will need a much better showing for the fans’ blood pressure during game viewing.