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Gonzaga vs. Pepperdine: Game Preview

A woeful Waves squad hosts the Zags.

NCAA Basketball: Pepperdine at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs head to the hills of Malibu to face off against the Pepperdine Waves on a weirdly scheduled Wednesday evening WCC contest, at 8:00 pm PT.

The Zags remain undefeated in conference play, coming off easy wins over Pacific and Saint Mary’s last week. Things aren’t quite as good for Pepperdine, who owns just one win in conference play this season over Pacific. The Waves lost last week to San Francisco and BYU.

Meet the opponent

Pepperdine Waves, 7-20, KenPom #285

It has been an absolutely brutal go for Pepperdine this season. The squad started out ranked No. 147 and has now dropped well over 100 spots. Things won’t necessarily get any easier, with three of their final four games against Gonzaga, Santa Clara, and BYU.

Last go-round, the Gonzaga offense melted Pepperdine’s defense and raced them off the court in a 117-83 win. The 117 points marked the second-highest point total in 20 years and the 89.8 tempo was the second-highest as well.

It is hard to think what Pepperdine can do differently to try and change the equation. Lorenzo Romar likes to push the tempo on his teams, and this Pepperdine squad isn’t much different, landing No. 48 in the country. Of course, trying to outrun Gonzaga just does not work, and the Waves do not have the scorers or the defense to make this game remotely competitive. The question is not if Gonzaga will win, but by how much?

What to watch out for

Continued strong play from Andrew Nembhard.

All of that fretting we did over Nembhard’s play earlier in the season looks to be firmly in the rear-view mirror. Ever since a somewhat fine, but somewhat sloppy, 19 point, six assist, and four turnover game against Santa Clara on Jan. 15, Nembhard has totaled 36 assists to just 4 turnovers.

Some more Timme-like games from Drew Timme.

The Gonzaga forward was so ridiculously efficient last season it is hard to remember he had a huge challenge on “improving” upon that feat. It is not as if Timme has had a bad year by any stretch, but he has had a few more “non-Timme-like” games. Against Saint Mary’s, he looked to be busting out of the mini-slump from the beginning of the month. Timme scored 25 points off 11-for-16 shooting. The turnovers have definitely been an issue, but as long as Timme is scoring, it is just another key cog in the well-oiled Gonzaga machine.