No. 3/3 Zags Host Saint Mary's for the WCC Lead

3/3 Gonzaga (18-1, 7-0) vs. Saint Mary’s (15-3, 7-0)
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 | 8:00 p.m. (PT) | McCarthey Athletic Center (6,000) | Spokane, Wash.
TV: ESPNU (Roxy Bernstein, Corey Williams)
Gonzaga IMG Radio Network: KGA 1510/TuneIn App (Tom Hudson, Matt Santangelo)

Watch: ESPN3 |  Live stats  |  Gonzaga notes  |  Saint Mary's notes
*Online Broadcasts are subject to blackout

STORY LINES

  • Last time out: Gonzaga led wire-to-wire and dished out assists on 20 of its 25 made baskets to defeat Loyola Marymount on the road 72-55. Gary Bell Jr. had a breakout game with a team-high 17 points and three more Zags added double figures.
  • Gonzaga earned its eighth 7-0 start to West Coast Conference play in the Mark Few era, and will be looking for its eighth 8-0 start under Few.
  • The win was Gonzaga’s 11th straight overall and 12th straight over WCC opponents.
  • GU has won 34 games in a row at home, the nation’s longest active home winning streak, dating back to Dec. 8, 2012, a span of 776 days.
  • The Zags have also won 30 straight WCC home games, dating back to a 73-71 loss to Saint Mary’s on January 27, 2011.
  • Mark Few’s won his 200th-career WCC game at Pepperdine last Thursday (now 201-24, .893). He’s the only coach in league history to reach 200 WCC wins.

ABOUT GONZAGA

  • Head coach Mark Few enters the game with a career record of 421-101, the NCAA all-time leader in winning percentage at .806.
  • Gonzaga’s balanced scoring attack is led by Kyle Wiltjer’s 16.6 points per game. After that, five more players average between 8.2 and 12.5 points per game.
  • Gonzaga is the No. 1 field goal shooting team in the nation at .530.
  • The Zags are also ultra efficient in taking care of the ball ranking No. 3 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.63), No. 7 in assists per game and No. 8 in scoring offense (81.8).
  • The Zags are in the top two the West Coast Conference in 23 team statistical categories.

ABOUT SAINT MARY’S

  • Head coach Randy Bennett is in his 14th season with a 298-138 (.685) career record at SMC.
  • The Gaels are led by senior forward Brad Waldow, who averages more than a double-double with 20.6 points (2nd in WCC) and 10.1 rebounds per game (1st in WCC).
  • Stanford transfer Aaron Bright (11.6 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Washington transfer Desmond Simmons (5.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) have bolstered Saint Mary’s this season.

ABOUT THE SERIES

  • Gonzaga is 60-27 all-time against Saint Mary’s and has won six games in a row and 9 of 11.
  • The Zags swept SMC in three meetings last season with a 73-51 win in Spokane.


THE KENNEL

Gonzaga hasn’t lost at home since Dec. 8, 2012 to Illinois (85-74), a streak of 34 games and span of 769 days. The 34 games is the longest current streak in the nation after Duke’s 41-gamer was broken by Miami last week. It is also the second-longest streak in school history. The school record is 50 from 2003-2007, which includes the McCarthey Athletic Center opening in 2004. The Zags won their first 38 games in their new building. The 10th anniversary of the first game played in the MAC was on Nov. 19, 2004, a 98-80 win over Portland State.

PANGOS LEAVING HIS MARK
Senior guard Kevin Pangos continued his assault on the Gonzaga all-time top 10 lists against LMU. In that game alone, he moved into second at GU in three-pointers (283), fifth in assists (450) and tied for 10th in points (1,621).

THE KENNEL - WCC VERSION
Gonzaga also owns a 30-game conference home winning streak that dates back to a 73-71 loss to Saint Mary’s on January 27, 2011. Of those 30 games, only four have been decided by single digits with only three decided by five points or less.

THE NATION’S BEST
When it comes to putting the ball in the basket, no team in the nation has done it at a higher rate this season than Gonzaga. The Zags have an NCAA best .530 field goal percentage thanks in large part to its big men. Freshman forward Domantas Sabonis leads the team at .728 and junior center Przemek Karnowski is shooting .593.

BEST START
Gonzaga is off to the best start to a season in program history at 18-1. It bests the 17-1 mark from the 2012-13 season. As for league play, at 7-0 the Zags are tied for the best start through seven games. They’ve achieved a 7-0 record seven previous times.

SABONIS PERFECT FROM FIELD
Last week at Pepperdine, freshman Domantas Sabonis was a force in the paint going a perfect 9-for-9 from the field. Dating back to his last field goal in GU’s previous game and his first field goal against LMU following Pepperdine, he made 11 in a row. That’s his second double-digit streak of made field goals this season. Earlier this year, he made 13 consecutive field goals over the course of nearly four games. He made his final FG attempt against UGA, then went 6-for-6 against St. John’s and 6-for-6 against Southeastern Louisiana before missing in the second half at Arizona.

FRESHMAN FORCE
Freshman Domantas Sabonis has turned up his game over the last five for Gonzaga. In that span, he’s averaging 10 points and 8.8 rebounds and shooting .759 (22-for-29). He dropped in 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds at Pepperdine after posting 11 points and 9 rebounds against Santa Clara. He ended the weekend with nine points and eight rebounds against LMU.

LOW BLOC
Special thanks to Grantland college basketball writer Mark Titus for the “Low Bloc” nickname suggestion for the combo of Domantas Sabonis (Lithuanian) and Przemek Karnowski (Polish). The Zag pair has been nearly unstoppable when catching the ball in the paint. In the last seven games (all WCC contests), they are shooting a combined .723 from the field (60-for-83) and combining to grab 12.7 rebounds per game.

WILTJER SCORING AT WILL
Gonzaga started the year with five different leading scorers in its first six games, but over the last 13 Kyle Wiltjer has been the top scorer eight times, including four 20-point games with the most recent coming a 24-point effort at Pepperdine. He’s had double digits a team-best 15 times and has a team-leading 16.6 points per game. Wiltjer also posted a team season-high 32 points earlier this year against Georgia in Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal. In WCC play, Wiltjer has continued his steady play, averaging 15.6 points per game in league contests to go along with 5.2 rebounds per game and 1.6 assists per game.

MAKING IT RAIN

  • Gonzaga leads the WCC and is ranked No. 11 in the nation in 3FG% at .406.
  • GU has made at least four three-pointers in every game, is averaging 7.3 per game.
  • Gonzaga has made at least 10 threes in a game six times this season.
  • Ten players have made at least one three.
  • Kevin Pangos leads the team with 42 threes and is shooting .472, second-best in WCC.
  • A GU player has made five threes in a game four times this season (Pangos 3, Bell Jr. 1).

PANGOS LIGHTING UP THE LEAGUE
In seven West Coast Conference games, Kevin Pangos has been about as good as it gets. He’s averaging 15.3 points and 5.1 assists per game. Not to mention, he’s shooting .538 (21-39) from behind the arc. He has 36 total assists in those six league games against just nine turnovers, a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

#4EQUALS3
Follow Kevin Pangos’ road to the GU career three-point record on Twitter with #4equals3. With four more against LMU on Saturday, Pangos’ total climbed to 283, second-best all-time at GU. That leaves him just five behind Blake Stepp’s 288. Pangos ranks second nationally among active career three-point leaders, behind USD’ s Johnny Dee.

GONZAGA BIGS LIGHTS OUT
The combination of Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis, Przemek Karnowski and Angel Nunez is shooting a collective .598 from the field at 308-for-515. The group has also combined to score 40.9 points per game. Sabonis would rank at the top of the NCAA list, but does not have enough made field goals to qualify for the NCAA statistical minimums (5 made per game). He does qualify to rank at the top of stat lists from the West Coast Conference and from ESPN.com.

Here’s the individual season breakdown:
Kyle Wiltjer - 122-227 (.537), 16.6 ppg
Przemek Karnowski - 89-150 (.593), 10.6 ppg
Domantas Sabonis - 75-103 (.728), 9.9 ppg
Angel Nunez - 22-35 (.629), 3.8 ppg


 

 

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