Gonzaga puts unbeaten record on the line at Portland (Jan 6, 2017)

Gonzaga’s school-record 15-0 start has the Bulldogs handling the pressure more so on themselves than their West Coast Conference opponents.

Some in the national media are now debating if Mark Few’s seventh-ranked team can go unbeaten in the regular season. The opportunity of keeping the winning streak alive at Portland (9-6 overall and 2-1 in the WCC) at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday is but a blip on the screen with much greater expectations heaped on the Bulldogs.

“We believe we’re as good as our record says,” Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins said. “We don’t really need other people to tell us how good we are. We really want it this year.”

Gonzaga enters the game against the Pilots, coached by former NBA standout guard Terry Porter, with a 3-0 record in conference play. The game wraps up a three-game road trip for Gonzaga, which will play only six more road games in the regular season after playing the Pilots.

Two of those games will be against teams who will challenge for an NCAA tournament berth — St. Mary’s and BYU. Looking past Portland could be a trap for Gonzaga, but Few is confident about his team keeping a focus for the job at hand.

“We know we’re on a special ride a little bit,” guard Nigel Williams-Goss said after he scored a career-high 36 points and had 11 rebounds and six assists in a 95-80 win at San Francisco on Thursday.

“I’m reminding our guys before every game, ‘This is a special season. Let’s not take any game or opportunity for granted. Just try to play hard every night play and give ourselves the best chance to win.”

Portland started 2-0 in the WCC but lost 70-42 at Santa Clara on Thursday night. Porter’s team now hosts Gonzaga on Saturday night and No. 19 St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

The Pilots have one of the most potent backcourts in the WCC with Jazz Johnson and Alec Wintering.

Johnson scored almost half of Portland’s production against Santa Clara with 19 points. Wintering is coming off performances in which he was selected the WCC Player of the Week after averaging 24.5 points, 5.5. rebound and 7.0 assists in wins over Pacific and Pepperdine.

Wintering and Johnson comprise the No. 3 scoring backcourt in the nation (38.7 points a game) and No. 6 scoring duo overall nationally.

“Those guys work hard and set a good example for the rest of our guys,” Porter said. “We wish we could have more players like them.”

Johnson, Wintering and wing player Gabe Taylor average 52.4 points per game, but after them, Portland suffers a falloff. Their teammates average 22.8 points.

Facing Gonzaga’s depth on the perimeter and interior is a tall task for Portland.

The Bulldogs have perimeter players who can score in Williams-Goss, Perkins, Jordan Mathews and Silas Melson. That foursome is making 41 percent of its 3-pointers.

In the paint, Gonzaga features 7-foot-1 and 300-pound center Przemek Karnowski (12.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game) and 7-0 freshman Zach Collins, who NBA scouts reportedly believe is the Bulldogs’ best prospect. Collins is shooting 71.2 percent (52 of 73) from the field.

Power forwards Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie bolster Gonzaga’s frontcourt.

In terms of size in the paint, Portland counters only with Phillip Hartwich, a 7-1, 250-pound center who averages 1.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.