No. 8/8 MBB to Face Cal Poly in Battle In Seattle

8/8 Gonzaga (10-1) vs. Cal Poly (5-4)
Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 | 7:00 p.m. (PT) | KeyArena (14,666) | Seattle, Wash.
TV: KHQ/ROOT Sports (Greg Heister, Richard Fox, Dan Dickau)
Gonzaga IMG Radio Network: KGA 1510/TuneIn App (Tom Hudson, Matt Santangelo)

Live Stats  |  Gonzaga Notes

STORY LINES

  • This game is Gonzaga’s 12th annual Battle in Seattle.
  • Last time out: Gonzaga improved its home winning streak to 32 games with a 40-point victory over visiting Texas Southern on Monday. Kyle Wiltjer notched his third straight 20-point game, knocking down 9-of-11 shots on the way to 21 points.
  • Gonzaga is 7-4 in 11 all-time Battle in Seattle games, including wins in each of the last three.
  • Gonzaga beat South Alabama 68-59 in last year’s Battle in Seattle.

ABOUT GONZAGA

  • Head coach Mark Few enters the game with a career record of 413-101, the all-time leader in winning percentage at .804.
  • Gonzaga has four players averaging double figures and two more above 9.0, led by Kyle Wiltjer’s 17.5 points per game.
  • Behind Wiltjer, two more newcomers are second and third on the team in scoring. Byron Wesley is at 12.1 points per game and Domantas Sabonis is at 11.5
  • Gonzaga is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation, ranking No. 4 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.70) and No. 2 in field goal percentage (54.2).
  • The Zags have out-rebounded all 11 opponents and hold a rebound margin of +11.3.

ABOUT CAL POLY

  • Head coach Joe Callero is in his sixth season after guiding the Mustangs to their first Big West title and NCAA Tournament appearance last season. CP defeated Texas Southern in a First Four game, then lost to top-seeded Wichita State in the Second Round.
  • The Mustangs return two starters from last season, and are led by junior wing David Nwaba and his 14.8 points per game. Brian Bennett averages 12.2 points per game and leads the team at 6.8 rebounds per game.
  • The Mustangs have been the best in the nation at taking care of the ball, committing an NCAA-low 7.1 turnovers per game.

ABOUT THE SERIES

  • This is the first-ever meeting between Gonzaga and Cal Poly.


BATTLE IN SEATTLE HISTORY
Dec. 13, 2003 - No. 17 Gonzaga 87, No. 3 Missouri 80 (ot)
Dec. 4, 2004 - Gonzaga 68, Massachusetts 57
Dec. 10, 2005 - No. 9 Gonzaga 64, Oklahoma State 62
Dec. 30, 2006 - No. 18 Nevada 82, Gonzaga 74
Dec. 29, 2007 - No. 11 Tennessee 82, Gonzaga 72
Dec. 20, 2008 - No. 2 Connecticut 88, No. 8 Gonzaga 83 (ot)
Dec. 12, 2009 - No. 21 Gonzaga 103, Davidson 91
Dec. 4, 2010 - No. 20 Illinois, Gonzaga 73-61
Dec. 17, 2011 - Gonzaga 71, Arizona 60
Dec. 15, 2012 - No. 14 Gonzaga 68, Kansas State 52
Dec. 14, 2013 - No. 20 Gonzaga 68, South Alabama 59

WILTJER SCORING AT WILL
Three games. Three 20-plus scoring efforts. After dropping in 21 against Washington State and 24 at UCLA, Kyle Wiltjer notched 21 his last time out. That gives him five games this season over 20 points and nine with at least double digits. He’s averaging a team-leading 17.5 points per game and posted a team season-high 32 points earlier this year against Georgia in Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal.

WILTJER HONORS
After scoring 20-plus in two games last week, Kyle Wiltjer was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week and the USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week. Wiltjer averaged 22.5 points per game in wins over Pac-12 foes Washington State and UCLA. From the field, he was 18-for-27 (.667), including a 5-for-7 (.714) mark from behind the arc. Last Wednesday in an 81-66 win over WSU, Wiltjer knocked down 9-of-14 shots en route to 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal. Three days later, he led Gonzaga to an 87-74 win at UCLA with a team-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go along with four rebounds. Wiltjer was also 4-for-4 from the free throw line in those two games.

20/20
Both Kyle Wiltjer and Byron Wesley each posted 20-point scoring efforts in the same two games last week. Wiltjer dropped in 24 on 9-of-13 shooting against UCLA and 21 on 9-of-14 shooting against Washington State. Wesley meanwhile has been even more efficient from the field, scoring 20 on 7-of-8 shooting against UCLA and 20 on 10-of-14 shooting against Washington State.

20/20...20
Three Zags crossed the 20-point barrier against Washington State with Przemek Karnowski’s 22, Kyle Wiltjer’s 21 and Byron Wesley’s 20. It marked the first time the Zags had three 20-point scorers since Dec. 12, 2009, against Davidson in the Battle in Seattle. That night, Elias Harris had 28, Robert Sacre had 23 and Demetri Goodson had 22 in a 103-91 win.

PAC-12 SUCCESS
With the win at UCLA on Saturday, Gonzaga moved to 2-1 against Pac-12 Conference teams this season, also getting a win over Washington State. Their loss came by three in overtime at No. 3 Arizona. During Mark Few’s 16-year tenure at Gonzaga, the Bulldogs are 28-14 (.667) against Pac-12 teams.

#4EQUALS3
Follow Kevin Pangos’ road to the GU career three-point record on Twitter with #4equals3. With three three-pointers against Texas Southern, Pangos’ total climbed to 258, the third-best all-time at GU. That leaves him 22 behind Richie Frahm’s 280 and 30 behind Blake Stepp’s 288. Pangos also ranks second nationally among active career three-point leaders, behind only Johnny Dee of San Diego.

KARNOWSKI TURNING IT UP
After averaging a solid 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds through the first five games, junior center Przemek Karnowski is averaging 11.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game over the last five. The step up in numbers has also come against tougher competition, including three Pac-12 teams.

INSTANT IMPACT
Gonzaga’s group of newcomers and transfers has not only brought depth and balance, but they’ve been prolific at putting the ball in the basket. Players in their first year in a GU uniform (transfers and freshmen) have combined to make up 54.1% of the offense this season, led by Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer’s team-leading 17.5 points per game. USC transfer Byron Wesley is second on the team averaging 12.1 points per game and freshman Domantas Sabonis is third at 11.5, making the trio, Gonzaga’s three leading scorers.

THE KARNOWSKI MACHINE
Junior center Przemek Karnowski had his breakout game of the season against Washington State last week, especially in the first half with 18 points. His total included three “and-1’s”, which he converted the free throw twice. He ended the game with a career-high tying 22 points and 10 made field goals (10-for-15). Karnowski also grabbed eight rebounds (5 offensive), dished out three assists, collected two steals and swatted away one shot. Karnowski’s previous career-high of 22 came in his first-career game back on Nov. 9, 2012, against Southern Utah.

DEPTH FINDER

  • Four players average at least 10.4 points per game, and two more are over 9.0
  • Six different leading scorers this season
  • At least four players in double figures seven times in 11 games
  • 10 players average at least in 12.1 minutes per game (including the injured Josh Perkins), and eight average more than 17.3 minutes per game
  • Seven players average at least 2.8 rebounds per game
  • Nine different players have made a three-pointer this season

GONZAGA’S PRESCRIPTION? MORE SENIORS
Gonzaga’s three seniors in the starting lineup have shown to make a huge difference when they are on the floor. Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos and Byron Wesley have turned in monstrous plus/minus numbers through 10 games. When Pangos is on the floor GU is +224, Bell is +201 and Wesley is +199. Coincidentally, those three lead the team in minutes played per game with Pangos at 30.6, Wesley at 28.1 and Bell Jr. at 25.8.

DOMANTAS DOMINATING
Freshman Domantas Sabonis has wasted no time showing national pundits that he’s a rookie with no ceiling. Through 11 games, he’s reached double-digit points eight times and had six or more rebounds six times. He recorded his first double-double (10p-11r vs. St. Joe’s), and is leading the team in field goal percentage at .750 (48-64), third on the team in rebounding at 5.7 per game and second in free throw shooting at .806 (25-31). He’s also the son of Naismith Hall of Famer and former Portland Trail Blazer Arvydas Sabonis.

SHARING IS CARING
Through 11 games, Gonzaga has been one of the best in the nation at both sharing the ball and caring for the ball. The Zags rank in the top 10 in assists per game at 18.5 and assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.70, while ranking in the top 25 in fewest turnovers per game. Kevin Pangos leads with 59 assists, Byron Wesley has 28 and Gary Bell Jr. has 25.

MAKING IT RAIN
Gonzaga is averaging 7.4 three-pointers per game so far this season and is shooting at a .397 clip (81-204). Nine players have made at least one three, and Gary Bell Jr. leads the team with 22, including his five-three-pointer outburst against St. Joseph’s Wednesday, Nov. 19. The Bulldogs have made at least four three-pointers in every game, including four games with at least 10 three-pointers.

SUFFOCATING DEFENSE
It isn’t only Gonzaga’s 85.5 points per game on offense that’s been impressive, its been the 60.9 points per game allowed on defense. Only five of 11 opponents have crossed the 60-point mark and just two have scored 70-plus. The Zags have held opponents to .385 from the field, and .323 from behind the arc. GU is also keeping the clamps down in the backcourt, with an opponent assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.7, forcing 13.4 turnovers and allowing 9.3 assists per game.

WINDEX
Gonzaga has cleaned up on the glass through 11 games, out-rebounding every opponent and holding a rebounding margin of +11.1, the ninth-best mark in the NCAA. Collectively, Gonzaga is averaging 39.7 rebounds per game including 12.1 offensive boards per game. Opponents, meanwhile, averaging just 28.4 total rebounds per game. Center Przemek Karnowski leads the Zags at 6.4 per game.


 

 

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