No. 7/7 Zags Face Pepperdine in WCC Semis
Seventh-ranked and top-seeded Gonzaga will take on Pepperdine in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Monday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
7/7 Gonzaga (30-2) vs. Pepperdine (18-12)Monday, March 9, 2015 | 6 p.m. (PT) | Orleans Arena | Las Vegas, Nev.TV:
ESPN (Beth Mowins, Stan Heath)Gonzaga IMG Radio Network:
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- Last time out: Gonzaga got a career-high 24 points from Przemek Karnowski and pulled away with a 22-3 second half run against San Francisco for an 81-72 quarterfinal win. Kyle Wiltjer added 19 points and 8 rebounds, while Kyle Dranginis and Kevin Pangos each added 10 pts.
- Gonzaga entered as the No. 1 seed after clinching 14th regular season title in last 15 years.
- Gonzaga is 45-15 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.
- Gonzaga has a seven-game WCC Tournament winning streak.
- Head coach Mark Few enters the game with a career record of 433-102, 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 16.6 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 .524 (next closest is .510).
- The Zags rank No. 5 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.54), No. 9 in assists/game (16.5) and No. 13 in scoring offense (78.8).
- Gonzaga is the only team in the NCAA in the top 11 of both FG% offense and FG% defense.
- Head coach Marty Wilson is in his fourth season and the Waves are coming off a 50-47 quarterfinal victory over San Diego in their first WCC Tournament game on Friday.
- Pepperdine features forward Stacy Davis who averages 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Against GU, Davis averaged 17.0 ppg in two games this season.
- Jett Raines averages 10.9 ppg and had a career-high 22 against GU at PEPP earlier this year.
- Outside of Raines and Davis, Pepperdine has five more players that average between 5.5 and 9.4 points per game.
- The Waves hold opponents to just .256 from behind the arc, and .407 from the field.
ABOUT THE SERIES
- Gonzaga is 48-31 all-time against Pepperdine and has won 28 games in a row in the series.
- The Zags swept Pepperdine earlier this year, 78-76 in Malibu and 56-48 in Spokane.
- The teams have met six previous times in the WCC Tournament, each winning three.
WCC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
Gonzaga is 45-15 all-time in the WCC Tournament with 13 titles and 20 finals appearances.
Mark Few is 28-4 all-time in WCC Tournament with title-game appearances in all 15 seasons.
Senior’s Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. are 7-1 in the WCC tournament with two titles.
Pangos is averaging 11.6 points and 2.5 assists, while Bell Jr. is averaging 9.9 ppg and 1.9 apg in their careers in the league tournament.
With the WCC quarterfinal victory against San Francisco, Gonzaga toppedthe 30-win plateau for just the second time in school history. The Zags had finished a season with 29 three previous times, with the only other 30-win season coming two years ago (32-3). GU was the second team in the country to top 30 wins this season (Kentucky).
Both Kevin Pangos and Kyle Wiltjer were named James H. Naismith Award semifinalists. That marked the only pair of teammates on the list. Wiltjer was also named to the 15-player Wooden Award ballot on Friday. Pangos, who had made the Wooden Late Season Top 20, missed the cut when pared to 15.
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.
Earlier this year, ESPN’s Seth Greenberg called Przemek Karnowski “a mountian masquerading as a man.” In the WCC quarterfinal against San Francisco, he was just that, scoring a career-high 24 points on 10-14 shooting with four rebounds and two blocks. His previous career-high was 22, set twice, including against Washington State earlier this season.
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 12.9 ppg and 5.5 assists per game on the road and 10.4 ppg and 4.5 apg at home. Wesley is at 11.1 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.
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 1,754 points rank sixth, his 514 assists rank fifth and his 171 steals rank second all-time at Gonzaga.
Senior point guard Kevin Pangos leads the league in minutes (1,058:00) and has played more minutes than anyone at GU in the last four years. He’s been in the starting lineup in every career 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 136 games played and 135 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 16.6 points per game. More on Wiltjer’s scoring habits:
- Led team in scoring 14 times
- Team-high 25 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
OPPONENT COMPARISON NOTES - Through 31 games
- More assists than its opponent 29 times
- More rebounds than its opponent 28 times
- More or equal blocks with opponent 28 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 30 times
- More or equal 3FGM with its opponent 24 times
- Shot more or equal number of FT attempts 20 times
At Pacific, 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.
Domantas Sabonis has come onto the scene as a freshman 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 14 of the last 17 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 1.54 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.