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Gonzaga vs. Pacific: Game Preview

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Expect a grinder here.

PACIFIC TIGERS VS. MIAMI HURRICANES Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Gonzaga Bulldogs play their only game of the week, facing off against the Pacific Tigers on Saturday.

Gonzaga is coming off of two solid wins against Santa Clara and BYU, and they look like they are hitting their WCC stride. Pacific, conversely, lost to Santa Clara (on the road) and BYU (at home) and sits at 3-3 in conference play.

Meet the opponent

Pacific Tigers, 15-7, KenPom #143

Since Mighty Mouse Damon Stoudamire took over for the Tigers, he has slowly but surely trended the Tigers in the right direction. The Tigers currently have their highest KenPom ranking since joining the WCC back in 2014.

Much of that hasn’t come on the backs of a brand of basketball any of us truly want to watch. Whereas Gonzaga plays a bit more of a smooth style of ball, Pacific tries (and generally succeeds) in grinding the game to an absolute halt. The Tigers rank No. 330 in tempo (albeit LMU and Saint Mary’s go even slower), but it is the method in which the Tigers achieve said goal. They foul—a lot.

Pacific sends its opponents to the line as much as possible. Nearly 23 percent of their opponents’ total points come from free throws. Gonzaga, conversely, only allows 13.4 percent of opponents’ points to come from the charity stripe. The Tigers can accomplish this by running the deepest bench of all time. They rank No. 2 in KenPom in total bench minutes at 46.8 percent.

The only person who doesn’t have the fouling green light is senior forward Jahlil Tripp, who is one of the better players in the WCC. He averages 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and is especially adept at drawing contact.

What to watch out for

Filip Petrusev’s ankle.

The Gonzaga staff hasn’t said much about Petrusev’s ankle. Petrusev left the court with an ankle sprain against BYU. The good news is that Gonzaga only had one game this week, so odds should be on seeing the Gonzaga big man on the court. If not? Do we see Gonzaga run a six-man rotation again?

Watch the fouls down low.

This is where the injury to Anton Watson will reveal its ugly head. Jahlil Tripp draws 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes, ranked No. 57 in the country. Even with Petrusev in, that means the Zags’ only big bodies are Petrusev, Killian Tillie, and Drew Timme. If Tripp can hassle any combination of those players into foul trouble, Gonzaga’s short rotation starts to look a bit funky. On the plus side, Ryan Woolridge, Admon Gilder, and Corey Kispert are all pretty good at avoiding fouls, so that can hopefully balance it out a little.

Have patience.

This is not going to be a pretty game. Good luck to Keith during the recap.