Bulldogs Look To Advance To Sweet Sixteen Against Hilltoppers

March 20, 2009

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Men's Basketball Game Facts
Game No. 33 - Western Kentucky University
NCAA Tournament Second Round
Saturday, March 21 - 5:10 p.m. PDT
Rose Garden - Portland, OR
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane);
101.1 FM Rock `N' Roll's Greatest Hits (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: CBS (check local listings)
No. 4 Seed GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (27-5; 14-0 West Coast)
G -   2 Jeremy Pargo, 6-2, 220, Sr., Chicago, IL
       (9.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.1 assists, 1.4 steals)
G - 15 Matt Bouldin, 6-5, 224, Jr., Highlands Ranch, CO
       (13.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals)
G - 22 Micah Downs, 6-8, 194, Sr., Kirkland, WA
       (9.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks)
C -  42 Josh Heytvelt, 6-11, 260, Sr., Clarkston, WA
       (15.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.9 blocks)
F -   5 Austin Daye, 6-11, 200, So., Irvine, CA
       (12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.1 blocks)
HEAD COACH:  Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987)
GONZAGA RECORD:  263-65 (10th year - 20th at GU)  CAREER RECORD:  Same

No. 12 Seed WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY HILLTOPPERS (25-8; 15-3 Sun Belt) G - 4 A.J. Slaughter, 6-3, 180, Jr., Shelbyville, KY (15.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals) G - Orlando Mendez-Valdez, 6-1, 185, Sr., San Antonio, TX (13.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals) C - 40 Jeremy Evans, 6-9, 190, Jr., Crossett, AR (8.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.9 blocks) F - 1 Sergio Kerusch, 6-5, 210, So., Memphis, TN (11.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.5 assists, 0.5 steals) F - 30 Steffphon Pettigrew, 6-5, 225, So., Elizabethtown, (12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.8 assists, 0.6 steals) HEAD COACH: Ken McDonald (Providence, 1992) WKU RECORD: 25-8 (1st year) CAREER RECORD: Same. GAMES PRIOR TO GONZAGA: None.

This is the first time Gonzaga University has been a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and is the Bulldogs highest seed since being a No. 3 seed in 2006. Gonzaga's highest seed was a No. 2 in 2004. Gonzaga is 1-1 as a No. 2 seed, 3-2 as a No. 3 seed, 0-1 as a No. 6 and No. 7 seed, 1-1 as a No. 9 seed, 5-3 as a No. 10 seed, 2-1 as a No. 12 seed and 0-1 as a No. 14 seed, the latter the Bulldogs first NCAA appearance in 1995.

Should Gonzaga University advance to the South Regional it won't be the Bulldogs first trip to Memphis in the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga played in the 2001 South Regional in Memphis as a No. 12 seed, falling to top-seeded Michigan State University 77-62 in the Sweet Sixteen at The Pyramid, then home of the University of Memphis and the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. The FedEx Forum has since become the home of both the Tigers and the Grizzlies. Gonzaga has made trips to Memphis to play the Tigers last season and during the 2005-06 season. Gonzaga also played in Memphis in the first round of the 1998 Pre-Season Chase NIT.

Gonzaga University is 13-11 overall in the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs making their 11th straight appearance and 12th overall trip. The Bulldogs were a No. 7 seed a year ago and fell to No. 10 seed Davidson College in the Midwest Regional first round match-up in Raleigh, N.C. The No. 3 seed Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2006, their fourth trip to the Sweet Sixteen since 1999.

The best NCAA Tournament run for Gonzaga University was 1999 when the Bulldogs advanced to the Elite Eight, falling to eventual NCAA champion University of Connecticut. Gonzaga followed that run with Sweet Sixteen appearances in 2000 and 2001 prior to returning to the Sweet Sixteen in 2006. Gonzaga has advanced to at least the second round in 7-of-11 NCAA Tournament trips.

Gonzaga University is making its 11th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs current streak of 11 straight appearances ranks the Bulldogs tied for fifth for consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with the University of Texas and University of Wisconsin. The University of Arizona heads the list with 25 straight, while the University of Kentucky saw its streak snapped at 17.

Eight teams that dotted Gonzaga University's schedule this season have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Those teams have a combined record of 165-64 for a winning percentage of .718. Gonzaga defeated NCAA-bound squads University of Maryland, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tennessee in winning the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. The Bulldogs also defeated UT later in the season, snapping the Volunteers 37-game home winning streak.

Gonzaga University snapped a three-game NCAA Tournament losing streak with Thursday's 77-64 win over the University of Akron. The Bulldogs had dropped first-round games each of the past two seasons, and fell in the 2006 Sweet Sixteen to UCLA.

Western Kentucky University will be the first No. 12 seed Gonzaga University has faced in their NCAA Tournament history. The highest seeds the Bulldogs have faced are No. 13 Indiana State University in 2001, No. 11 University of Wyoming in 2002, No. 15 Valparaiso University and No. 10 University of Nevada in 2004, No. 14 Winthrop University in 2005, No. 14 Xavier University in 2006 and No. 10 Davidson College last year.

Gonzaga University remained 10th in both polls this week, including the final Associated Press poll of the season. It's the fifth time since 2002 the Bulldogs have finished in the Top 10 of the AP rankings. Gonzaga was sixth in 2002, third in 2004, 10th in 2005 and fifth in 2006. The University of Louisville heads both polls, the only time the Cardinals have finished the season ranked No. 1 by AP. The Bulldogs have been as high as fourth in both polls this season.

Gonzaga University appeared in its 12th consecutive West Coast Conference Tournament final this season, the second-longest streak of years making a final of a conference tournament among current conferences. The University of Kentucky went to the final of the SEC tournament for 14 successive seasons under Adolph Rupp from 1939-52.

Gonzaga University's lopsided wins in the West Coast Conference Tournament - 83-58 over Saint Mary's College in the final and 94-59 over Santa Clara University in the semifinal - made history. Over the last 10 years only three other schools won consecutive conference tournament games by at least 25 points: Davidson College last year, the University of Arizona in 2005 and the University of Kansas in 2002.

Gonzaga University has hit the 20-win mark for a 12th-straight season. The Bulldogs hit the plateau for the 16th time in the last 18 years. Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has been a part of all 16 20-win seasons, including all 10 of his years as head coach. Gonzaga has won at least 23 games in each of those 12 seasons.

Gonzaga University, which lost 4-of-5 games to close out calendar year 2008, has been hard to beat since the calendar changed to 2009. The Bulldogs have won 10 straight and 19-of-20 since suffering a 66-65 New Year's Eve loss at the University of Utah. Only the University of Memphis, currently ranked as high as third, has been able to dent the Bulldogs armor in that stretch.

Senior Jeremy Pargo had three assists against Pepperdine University Feb. 21 to move ahead of former Gonzaga University great and probably soon-to-be NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton for third on the all-time Bulldog assists list, Pargo now with 584. Stockton retired from the NBA as its all-time leader in assists and steals. Pargo has 168 career steals to move into third ahead of Blake Stepp.

There's no place like home, and the McCarthey Athletic Center has become quite the home for the Bulldogs since it opened for the 2004-05 season. Gonzaga is 63-3 in the new facility, winning its first 38 games in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Santa Clara University halted the streak with an 84-73 victory Feb. 12, 2007. That loss also snapped a 50-game home winning streak for the Bulldogs, at the time the longest streak in the nation, as Gonzaga left the old Kennel with 12 straight home victories. Gonzaga's other losses were last season to Washington State University and this year's setback to Portland State University.

Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few moved into second place on the school's all-time winningest coaches list with the Bulldogs victory Feb. 5 at the University of Portland. Few, in his 10th season, is now 263-65 and moved ahead of Dan Fitzgerald (252-171 in 15 years). Hank Anderson (290-275 in 21 seasons) is the all-time leader. Few is the active winningest coach in West Coast Conference games at 127-13, moving ahead of Fitzgerald (112-88) on the all-time wins list. Few also moved ahead of Dick Davey of Santa Clara University (122-88) for second with Gonzaga's victory at the University of San Francisco Feb. 14. Carroll Williams, SCU (165-137) holds the top spot.

Gonzaga University senior Jeremy Pargo is up for another post-season award, the Chicago, Ill., native one of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award sponsored by The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in conjunction with The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. The award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point guard. The 17 finalists were chosen from a pool of over 60 top candidates from NCAA Division I, II and III institutions across the country. The 2009 Finalists were selected by screening committees comprised of media members representing all three divisions of collegiate basketball.

Three Gonzaga University players have been honored on the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 9 team. Senior Josh Heytvelt and junior Matt Bouldin were accorded first-team honors, while sophomore Austin Daye was a second-team selection. The Bulldogs have had 15 first-team selections since the honors were first bestowed in 1960. Derek Raivio was the last first-team honoree for the Bulldogs in 2007. The trio is now eligible for the State Farm Coaches' Division I All-America teams.

Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few added two players to the Bulldog fold to letters-of-intent. Sam Dower, a 6-9, 220-pound left-handed senior center/forward from Osseo, Minn., High School and 6-5, 185-pound wing Mangisto "Manny" Arop will join GU next season. Dower averaged 22 ppg and 10 rpg per game in the month of July and 18 ppg and 9 rpg for this past AAU season, according to head coach Marquise Watts of Net Gain Sports, Dower's AAU club. Net Gain Sports won the Twin Cities Summer Classic, won the adidas 64 Gold Division in Las Vegas and went 3-2 in round-robin play in the Duel in the Desert in Phoenix, according to Watts. "He can score for a big guy. He's a lefty so that makes it harder to defend because most people aren't used to seeing a lefthander," Few said. "He can make a difference and is a unique post player. He had a good spring and a great summer." Watts said Dower has worked hard to improve his game. "Every day over the last two years he's gotten better. I don't think he's begun to scratch the surface. His inside-outside game, he can shoot the three and on the block he's a lefty with a great hook shot," Watts said. "He's athletic, he's working on putting on weight and he will fit in real well at Gonzaga." Dower didn't make the varsity team at Osseo until midway through his sophomore year. He averaged 2.5 ppg and 1.6 rpg then blossomed last season to average 13.4 ppg and 5.9 rpg. Last season he scored in double figures 23 times and had double-digit rebounds six times. The Orioles went 28-1, their lone setback 60-59 in the Region finals. He scored a career-high 23 points at Coon Rapids and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds at Orono. He had several scholarship offers, among them the University of Minnesota, Marquette University and the University of Iowa. Arop, born in the Sudan, currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where he plays with Basketball Canada's National Elite Development Academy (NEDA) which is basically Canada's Junior National Team. His first name is pronounced Man-GEESE-toe, his last name pronounced "rop" (the "a" is silent) but he goes simply by Manny. He recently set a single-game scoring NEDA scoring record with 42 points, and this past summer played for Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship in Formosa, Argentina. He averaged 17.0 ppg to rank second, 10.2 rpg to rank third, shot 52.8 percent from the field on 23-for-58 and 87.5 percent from the line on 14-of-15 in the five tournament games as Canada placed fifth. He had 21 points and 9 rebounds against the U.S. in the tourney. "Manny is a high energy player with a great competitive streak," Few said. "His skill level is something to be excited about. He has a great opportunity to be effective for us at both ends of the court." His mother and four brothers left Sudan when he was 9-years-old and lived in Kenya prior to re-locating to Regina, Saskatchewan. Arop then spent a year in Edmonton, Alberta, before joining Basketball Canada's NEDA program, which is a year-round junior development camp.

Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few and wife Marcy gave birth to son Colt Walker Norman Few on New Year's Day, the couple's fourth child joining Austin James (A.J.), Joe and Julia.

The nine straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles by Gonzaga University marks the longest current streak in the nation and ranks tied for fourth all-time in the NCAA Division I ranks, the Bulldogs knotting the University of Kentucky. The Wildcats won nine straight Southeastern Conference crowns from 1944-52. UCLA's 13 Pacific-10 Conference titles from 1967-79 head the list.

With a 14-0 West Coast Conference slate tucked away, Gonzaga University will enter the 2010 WCC campaign with 21 straight regular-season wins in Conference play. The last regular-season loss suffered by the Bulldogs was Feb. 4, 2008, at Saint Mary's College 89-85 in overtime.

Gonzaga University is back up to second in defensive field goal percentage, the Bulldogs allowing opponents to hit at a 36.9 clip. The University of Memphis holds the top spot at 36.6 percent. The Bulldogs held Saint Mary's College to a season-low 28.8 percent in the championship game of the West Coast Conference Tournament. USC Upstate shot 29.8 percent from the field (14-for-47) against the Bulldogs in the regular-season finale, and the University of Idaho mirrored USC Upstate with a 14-for-47 night early in the season. Santa Clara University shot 46.8 percent from the field (29-for-62) against the Bulldogs Feb. 26 for the highest percentage of any Bulldog opponent this season.

Gonzaga University sophomore Robert Sacre has shelved any plans for a comeback this season and will apply for a medical hardship. He has been sidelined since Dec. 5 with a broken right foot and just recently was cleared for individual workouts and limited practice. He had a pin inserted in the same foot prior to the start of practice earlier this fall to help heal a non-displaced stress fracture. With the regular season now over, he decided his minutes would be limited and he didn't want to use a year of eligibility if it was uncertain how much he could play and contribute in the post-season. Sacre has played 44 minutes in five games this season, averaging 3.0 ppg and 2.8 rpg.

Sophomore Austin Daye continues to climb up the all-time Gonzaga University blocked shots list. He now has 120 to move past Tim Ruff (1981-85) for third. Ronny Turiaf (2002-05) is second with 179 and Casey Calvary (1998-01) sits atop the list with 207. He became the single-season leader with 60 with his two blocks against USC Upstate, surpassing Ronny Turiaf who had 59 in 2005. Daye, with 62 blocks this season, has had at least one block in 28 of Gonzaga's 32 games this season, and has 19 multiple-block games including four Thursday.

Gonzaga University senior Jeremy Pargo became the 30th member of the 1,000-point club for the Bulldogs, and junior Matt Bouldin and senior Josh Heytvelt became the 31st and 32nd members, respectively. Pargo has 1,211 career points for 19th. Heytvelt has 1,148 for 22nd Bouldin has 1,142 for 24th. It's the first time since 2004 the Bulldogs have had three 1,000-point scorers on the court when Ronny Turiaf, Blake Stepp and Cory Violette accomplished the feat.



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