No. 3 Gonzaga steamrolling into visit with Loyola Marymount
Gonzaga has been roughing up its West Coast Conference rivals this season while winning 10 straight conference games.
The third-ranked Bulldogs have won those league contests by an average of 31.1 points, with none by a margin smaller than 13, and they look to post another triumph when they visit Loyola Marymount on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Overall, Gonzaga (23-2, 10-0 WCC) has won 14 straight games, including margins of a school-record 61 and another of 59. But last Saturday's 94-46 annihilation of Saint Mary's might rank as the most impressive, as the Gaels typically are battling the Bulldogs for WCC supremacy.
"That might be our best game, period," junior power forward Brandon Clarke told reporters after the 48-point rout. "Our offense and defense were very good."
The victory was the seventh by 40 or more points this season for the Zags, who are putting up a resume worth a No. 1 seed come NCAA Tournament time.
Gonzaga also is looking for its 21st straight win over Loyola Marymount (17-8, 5-6) since dropping a 74-66 decision in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2010. The Bulldogs recorded a 73-55 home win over the Lions on Jan. 17.
Gonzaga is 41-3 against Loyola Marymount during coach Mark Few's 20-season tenure. And overlooking teams isn't something that occurs very often on Few's watch.
"The coaches talk everybody up, they let us know every game is going to be a battle," senior reserve guard Geno Crandall told reporters. "We're going to get everybody's best shot. We have to come in with the same idea. It's kind of been a theme for us, come out with an edge."
Bulldogs junior forwards Rui Hachimura and Clarke are waging a battle for WCC Player of the Year honors.
Hachimura averages a team-best 20.2 points and became the 43rd player in program history to reach 1,000 points during the win over Saint Mary's. His total stands at 1,005.
Clarke averages 16.8 points and a team-high eight rebounds, and has set a program record with 77 blocked shots.
Also closing in on a school mark is senior point guard Josh Perkins (10.4 points, 6.8 assists). Perkins ranks second in school history with 648 assists, just 20 behind leader Matt Santangelo (1996-2000).
"It means a lot, it means hard work is paying off," Perkins told reporters. "Once I leave here, I can look back and reflect on that. At the moment, we're still chasing a title."
Loyola Marymount has played well at home and is 10-2 inside "Hank's House," dubbed for the late Hank Gathers, the star player who collapsed and died during a 1990 game.
"It's Hank's House and he's 52 years old this week," Lions coach Mike Dunlap said in a video aimed toward the student body. "Let's give Hank a tribute and come to this game and see if we knock down the tall timber."
The Lions are 10-1 when holding opponents to 60 or fewer points, while allowing an average of 61.8 per game. Loyola Marymount is accumulating 7.2 steals per game, led by senior guard James Batemon (43), sophomore guard Joe Quintana (37) and senior guard Jeffery McClendon (32).
"We're stopping teams and keeping them under 50, 60 points, but some games we go on little scoring slumps and won't get enough ball movement and stuff like that," Batemon told reporters. "(We need to be) more consistent on the offensive end, because our defense is (among the best) in the country."
Batemon averages a team-best 16.8 points and poured in 28 in last Saturday's 72-55 victory at Portland.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 13, 2019