Top-ranked Gonzaga is picking up steam and looks for its 20th straight win dating back to last season when it visits San Diego in West Coast Conference play on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs (15-0, 6-0 WCC) have won nine games this season by 20 or more points, including eight of their past 11. It figures to add to that rout total against the Toreros (2-6, 1-3), who typically don’t fare well against Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs have won the past 12 meetings, 23 of the last 24, and 45 of the past 48.
And Gonzaga looks extra sharp entering this encounter after whipping visiting Pacific 95-49 on Saturday. The 46-point margin was their largest of the season, topping a 112-67 rout of Dixie State on Dec. 29.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 34-8 lead in the opening 10-plus minutes and were never threatened while holding the Tigers to 27.9 percent field-goal shooting.
The outing was more what Gonzaga coach Mark Few was looking to see. He wasn’t overly thrilled with the previous two games — a 95-70 home win versus Pepperdine and a 73-59 road victory over Saint Mary’s.
“We challenged them a little bit,” Few said. “We let our guard down in both games.”
Drew Timme was on his game against Pacific as he scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He has tallied 20 or more in three of the past four games.
“I thought Drew was pretty dialed in,” Few said of the performance. “He gave a great effort on defense.”
Timme is shooting 61.2 percent from the field and ranks second on the squad in both scoring (18.5 points per game) and rebounding (6.9).
Corey Kispert leads Gonzaga in scoring (20.6) and 3-point baskets (47). He has made a superb 49 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
Jalen Suggs (13.9) and Joel Ayayi (12.5) also average in double digits for a team that leads the nation with 94.4 points per contest. Ayayi is averaging a team-leading 7.5 boards.
That type of firepower is hard to match for the Toreros, who average 65.4 points during a season in which they have experienced two 14-day quarantines due to COVID-19 issues.
San Diego posted a season-high scoring output with Saturday’s 78-70 road win over Portland. It ended a stretch in which it scored fewer than 70 in four straight games, all losses.
Josh Parrish was the star against the Pilots with a season-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He also matched a season-best of eight rebounds.
Parrish averages 11.9 points per game, second on the Toreros behind Joey Calcaterra (14.7).
It has been a trying season for San Diego due to the isolation breaks, one that delayed the start of the season and the other after the first of the year. The Toreros also had three straight games canceled just before Christmas.
San Diego is now trying to make up postponements as the contest against Gonzaga begins a stretch in which it plays eight games in 17 days.
“We all know this has been a season like no other,” Parrish recently told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It makes it a little tougher. A lot tougher. At the same time, it makes you grateful every day you can get back on the basketball floor. You’re much more hungry. You have a much more desired approach.”
–Field Level Media