No. 7/7 Zags Hit Las Vegas for WCC Tournament
Seventh-ranked Gonzaga will be the top seed in the West Coast Conference Tournament when they play the winner of USF/Pacfiic on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 in Las Vegas at Orleans Arena.
7/7 Gonzaga (29-2) vs. USF (13-17) or Pacific (12-18)Saturday, March 7, 2015 | 6 p.m. (PT) | Orleans Arena | Las Vegas, Nev.TV:
ESPN2 (Beth Mowins, Stan Heath)Gonzaga IMG Radio Network:
KGA 1510/TuneIn App (Tom Hudson, Matt Santangelo) WatchESPN | WCC Tournament Central | Gonzaga Notes
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- Last time out: Gonzaga had its 22-game overall win streak and 41-game home win streak snapped last Saturday against BYU, 73-70. Byron Wesley had 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Domantas Sabonis had 12 points, 8 rebounds.
- Gonzaga enters as the No. 1 seed after clinching 14th regular season title in last 15 years.
- Gonzaga is 44-15 all-time in the WCC Tournament and has played in the finals in each of the last 17 WCC Tournaments, winning 12 of those and 13 overall.
- Gonzaga has played in the final in each of Mark Few’s previous 15 seasons, winning 11 times.
- Head coach Mark Few enters the game with a career record of 432-102, the NCAA all-time leader in winning percentage at .809.
- Gonzaga’s balanced scoring attack is led by WCC Newcomer of the Year Kyle Wiltjer’s 16.5 points per game. He’s among six Zags that average at least 8.1 ppg.
- Gonzaga is ranked No. 1 in field goal shooting in the nation at .527 (next closest is .508).
- The Zags rank No. 5 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.56), No. 11 in assists/game (16.5) and No. 14 in scoring offense (78.7).
- Gonzaga is the only team in the NCAA in the top 15 of both FG% offense and FG% defense.
ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO
- Head coach Rex Walters’ squad enters the WCCs with a 13-17 mark and the No. 8 seed.
- Forward Kruize Pinkins leads the way at 14.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
- Mark Tollefsen (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Tim Derksen (12.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg) are also in double digits.
- The Dons are holding opponents to just 67.6 points per game and .356 from the field.
- GU swept USF this season, winning 88-57 at home and 81-70 on the road.
- Gonzaga is 1-1 all-time against USF in the WCC Tournament, with the GU win coming in 2011.
- Head coach Ron Verlin’s team enters as the No. 9 seed with a 12-18 overall record.
- Outside of T.J. Wallace’s 13.0 points per game, the Tigers have balance across the board with six players averaging between 6.2 and 9.1 points per game.
- Wallace leads the team in rebounding at 5.6 per game and is second in assists with 71.
- GU swept Pacific this season, winning 91-60 at home and 86-74 on the road (Wiltjer had 45).
- Joining the WCC for the 2013-14 season, Pacific is playing in just its 2nd league tournament.
WCC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
- Gonzaga is 44-15 all-time in the WCC Tournament with 13 titles and 20 finals appearances.
- Mark Few is 27-4 all-time in WCC Tournament with title-game appearances in all 15 seasons.
- Senior’s Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. are 6-1 in the WCC tournament with two titles.
- Pangos is averaging 11.1 points and 2.1 assists, while Bell Jr. is averaging 10.1 ppg and 1.9 apg in their careers in the league tournament.
Both Kevin Pangos and Kyle Wiltjer were named James H. Naismith Award semifinalists. That marked the only pair of teammates on the list.
WCC AWARDS SWEEP
Gonzaga dominated the West Coast Conference awards that were announced this week by the league office. Kevin Pangos was named the Player of the Year, Mark Few was the Coach of the Year, Gary Bell Jr. was the Defender of the Year and Kyle Wiltjer was the Newcomer of the Year. It was third time in GU history that the Zags had a clean sweep of the major individual awards from the league.
In addition to the major awards, Gonzaga also had a slew of players on the all-conference teams. Of the 15 on the First and Second Teams, six were Zags. Kevin Pangos, Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowski were named First Team All-WCC, while Domantas Sabonis, Gary Bell Jr. and Byron Wesley earned Second Team All-WCC honors. Sabonis was also named to the five-player WCC All-Freshman Team.
It’s been the veteran experience of Kyle Wiltjer, Kevin Pangos and Byron Wesley that have carried the Zags in games away from The Kennel. All three are averaging higher point totals on road or neutral floors. Wiltjer’s split is the biggest at 20.1 points per game in road/neutral and 13.6 ppg at home. Pangos has averaged 13.1 ppg and 5.5 assists per game on the road and 10.4 ppg and 4.5 apg at home. Wesley is at 11.6 ppg on the road and 10.1 ppg at home.
WCC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS
Just as the league’s coaches had predicted at the season’s start, Gonzaga took the outright regular season crown. It was the Zags’ third title in a row, 14th in the last 15 years, 16th in the last 18 years, and 18th overall. Fourteen have come under with head coach Mark Few at the helm.
Gonzaga’s nation-leading 41-game home win streak was snapped on Feb. 28 in a 73-70 loss to BYU in the regular season finale. The Zags hadn’t lost at home since Dec. 8, 2012 to Illinois (85-74), a span of 813 days. It was 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 after winning the final 12 in the Martin Centre. The loss also snapped a 36-game WCC home winning streak that dated back to Jan. 27, 2011 in a 73-71 loss to Saint Mary’s.
PANGOS IS EVERYWHERE
With his 500th assist at Saint Mary’s on Feb. 21, Kevin Pangos became the only player in school history to amass at least 1,700 points, 500 assists and 150 steals. His 1,744 points rank sixth, his 509 assists rank fifth and his 168 steals rank fourth all-time at Gonzaga.
Senior point guard Kevin Pangos leads the league in minutes (1,021:00) and has played more minutes than anyone at GU in the last four years. He’s been in the starting lineup in every game except one - the first one. Pangos came off the bench in his first career game as a freshman and has started every game since. That’s 135 games played and 134 starts.
WILTJER’S CRAFTY OFFENSE
On a team as balanced as Gonzaga is offensively, junior Kyle Wiltjer has been the unrivaled scoring leader with his variety of offensive skills. He’s shooting 53% from the field, 45% from behind the arc and 80% from the free throw line, while averaging a team-best 16.5 points per game. More on Wiltjer’s scoring habits:
- Led team in scoring 14 times
- Team-high 24 double-figure games
- Team-high 11 20-plus games
- Single-game team season-high of 45 points (at Pacific)
- Scored 20-plus in three straight games on two separate occasions
Against Pacific last Thursday, Kyle Wiltjer put together the best Zag scoring game in more than five decades with his 45-point effort. He knocked down 15-of-22 from the field, including 7-of-10 from behind the arc. His 45 points were the third-best in school history, and most since Frank Burgess scored a school-record 52 in 1961. It also topped Adam Morrison’s 44-point night against LMU on Feb. 18, 2006. He followed that up with a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double two nights later.
Freshman Domantas Sabonis has come onto the scene to lead the team in rebounding at 7.0 per game, and he’s been even better in league play on the glass where he’s averaging 7.6 per game. He leads the team in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds and total rebounds. Sabonis has had at least seven rebounds in 13 of the last 16 games, and double digits on the glass in four of those. In the first 15 games, he had more than seven four times and double digits once.
As a team, Gonzaga has been one of the best in the country at making the extra pass. The Zags are ranked 5th in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.56 and 11th in assists per game at 16.5. So far this season, the Zags have gotten an assists on 58% of their made baskets. Comparatively, Zag opponents have gotten assists on only 45% of their field goals.
MOST WINS EVER
Gonzaga’s four-year senior duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. are rewriting the records books with each victory. The GU record during their four years stands at 116-19 (. Against Pepperdine, the pair became the winningest senior class in program history with their then-113th win, besting last season’s senior class win total of 112.
OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
Gonzaga is one of only two teams in the nation to rank in the top 20 in field goal percentage offense and field goal percentage defense. The Zags have the nation-leading mark on the offensive side at 52.7 percent (the next closest is Notre Dame at 50.8) and rank 16th on the defensive side, holding teams a paltry 38.2 FG percentage. SMU is 10th in field goal percentage and 9th in field goal percentage defense.
GETTING BACK TO DEFENSE
Against San Diego on Thursday night Gonzaga put together the best defensive effort in the history of the McCarthey Athletic Center, allowing just 39 points. That mark is also tied for the ninth-fewest points allowed in a game in GU history. The Zags held San Diego to .296 from the field, marking the sixth time this year they’ve held a team under a .300 shooting percentage.
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 .524 field goal percentage thanks in large part to its big men. Freshman forward Domantas Sabonis leads the team at .684 and junior center Przemek Karnowski is shooting .605.
PANGOS LEAVING HIS MARK
Senior guard Kevin Pangos continued his assault on the Gonzaga all-time top 10 lists recently. He moved into first at GU in three-pointers, fifth in assists, fourth in steals and sixth in points. He’s also now in the top 10 in field goals made, free throws made and free throw percentage. See page eight for updated all-time rankings.
OPPONENT COMPARISON NOTES - Through 31 games
- More assists than its opponent 28 times
- More rebounds than its opponent 27 times
- More or equal blocks with opponent 27 times
- More or equal steals with opponent 16 times
- Less or equal turnovers with its opponent 19 times
- A higher or equal field goal percentage 29 times
- More or equal 3FGM with its opponent 23 times
- Shot more or equal number of FT attempts 19 times