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Game Preview: Zags at LMU

NCAA Basketball: St. Mary’s at Loyola Marymount Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs will be back on the road this Thursday when they hit Los Angeles to take on Loyola Marymount. The Lions have had quite the run in WCC play, although I doubt I’m the first to tell you that.

The Zags enter Thursday’s game looking to avenge January 20’s home loss to LMU, one that snapped their 75 game winning streak at the Kennel. The Lions have been playing well aside from their win in Spokane as well, currently sitting at 7-6 in the WCC and becoming the first team to ever beat Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and BYU in the same conference season.

Meet the opponent

LMU Lions, 17-10, 7-6 WCC; NET #95, KenPom #93

LMU lost a close one to Santa Clara last time out, but beat Saint Mary’s a week ago and won four in a row from January 15-29. Aside from a blowout at BYU, even their losses in conference have been close, and the Lions currently hold the fourth spot in the WCC.

They’re led by dynamic guard and likely WCC first-teamer Cam Shelton, who has scored over 20 points in seven of his last eight games, including back-to-back 30 pieces against the Gaels and the Broncos last week. He scored 27 against the Zags in Spokane. Seven-footer Rick Assanza also played a big role in that game, primarily on the defensive end against Drew Timme.

What to watch for

Timme Time: Drew Timme led the Zags with 17 points against LMU in Spokane, but did so on 5-12 shooting from the floor, looking out of rhythm for most of the game. While the Zags have plenty of weapons offensively, their halfcourt sets still revolve around Timme, so the game plan will likely change this time around.

Stopping Shelton: As he has all season, Cam Shelton will have a target on his back as the centerpiece of Gonzaga’s defensive scheme. Not only has he been scoring in bunches, but he’s been taking (and making) all the big shots for the Lions of late. He led them to the win in Spokane, and fed Aidan Mahaney a taste of his own medicine last week at home. Whether it’s Sallis or someone else, keeping him in check is item #1 for the Zags on D.