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Gonzaga’s Back in the Win Column With the Road Triumph Over Pepperdine, 86-61

The future Hall of Famer in Mark Few made history.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Pepperdine Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Congrats to Mark Few! He’s now the 37th men’s head coach in Division 1 college basketball history to reach 700 career wins. Coach Few is the second fastest to ever reach that mark and holds a winning percentage of .833%. Hard to really enjoy him getting to that historic victory when watching a broadcast so poorly produce. I thought Pepperdine was a wealthy institution but apparently can’t afford microphones that work.

It’s unlike Few to make a change with the rotation this late in the season but Gonzaga needed a starting lineup change badly. It was the right decision with Dusty Stromer (6 points on 2-6 FG and 2-4 3PT, 3 rebounds) moving to the bench which gives the second unit more guard help/ball-handling depth. I am a massive fan of the larger frontcourt as Ben Gregg (5 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) gets his first ever collegiate career start. The switch of the roles seemed to add more balance to both units.

How about this, Gonzaga playing well come out of the halftime locker room? That seems like a first for this team this season. The Bulldogs outscored the Waves in the second half by a score of 46-21. That was the best twenty minutes of play that Gonzaga has put together all season, especially on the defensive end which the Zags were locked in on. Whatever Mark Few said to the guys, hold onto those words.

Even though the first half was pretty awful, it actually ended up being one of Gonzaga’s better shooting performances of the season at 8-20 from deep (40.0 3PT%) due to that second half bonanza. We shall see if that trend can continue. If we stick to the narrative that it has been for the 2023-2024 campaign, that three-point percentage will drop right back down soon.

Gonzaga did most of its work against Pepperdine down low all night, with a 42-22 edge in paint points. That’s mostly in thanks to Graham Ike (24 points on 11-17 FG, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) who continues to make his massive presence known against his West Coast Conference opponents. His WCC Player of the Year campaign can be found right here (looking forward to the upcoming battles with USF’s Jonathan Mogbo, that will truly determine the winner of the award).

A fully healthy Jevon Porter (16 points on 5-13 FG and 2-5 3PT, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) wasn't enough as Pepperdine struggled mightily on the glass and lost the rebounding battle to Gonzaga, 42-26. The Zags were able to grab their first win on the road of the season and extend their winning streak over the Waves to now 47 straight victories. The Southern California road trip continues on Saturday at 6 PM PT on ESPN+ at San Diego.

Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho