Washington St.-Gonzaga Preview

BY foxsports • December 9, 2014

Gonzaga is in a stretch of three straight games against Pac-12 foes, and despite dropping the first, it should be plenty confident entering the second.

The ninth-ranked Bulldogs welcome Washington State to Spokane on Wednesday night for an annual in-state matchup that rarely goes the Cougars' way.

Gonzaga (7-1) took the No. 3 team in the nation to overtime Saturday but fell 66-63 in Arizona. The Bulldogs had a chance to tie in the closing seconds of the extra period, but Byron Wesley missed three free throws, and a poor shooting night denied them a chance to end the Wildcats' nation-best, regular-season winning streak over nonconference foes at 34.

"I'm going to tell him (Wesley) I have 100 percent trust and confidence in him the next time he's up there," coach Mark Few said. "He's been a great player for us this year and he's a tough play, and I wouldn't want anyone else on the line than him."

Gonzaga shot 40.4 percent from the field and 4 of 16 from 3-point range - both season worsts - after entering with an 88.0-point scoring average on 54.5 percent shooting.

"Their defense did a great job on us tonight and we just did not get the best looks, myself included," said guard Kevin Pangos, who was 3 of 10 for eight points. "This is just something we need to learn from."

There's been no such performance over a 30-game home winning streak on which Gonzaga has never shot below 43.1 percent. It's the second-longest home streak in the nation behind Duke's 37-game run.

The Bulldogs have won 12 of the past 15 matchups with Washington State (4-4), including the last three as Pangos has gone 15 of 26 from 3-point range. He hit 5 3s and finished with 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting in last season's 90-74 home win. As a freshman, Pangos scored 33 against the Cougars in Spokane, so he's averaging 30.0 in their visits.

Pangos led Gonzaga in scoring a season ago, but he's thus far taken a secondary role to Kyle Wiltjer. The Kentucky transfer is averaging 15.9 points, but his 15 against Arizona came on 6-of-15 shooting.

Washington State hasn't been nearly as tough to crack as Arizona, particularly from long range, where opponents have shot 40.0 percent. Even after the poor night against Arizona, Gonzaga is shooting 37.7 percent from 3.

The last time out, though, the Cougars flipped that advantage and made 18 of 30 from long range on their way to a 91-71 home victory over Texas-San Antonio on Saturday.

DaVonte Lacy was 8 of 12 on 3-pointers and had 31 points.

"My teammates do a great job - they've done a great job all year - of finding me and setting screens and stuff," said Lacy, who entered shooting 34.9 percent. "Finally, I'm upholding my duty of hitting shots."

It was the second time in three games he's scored 31 - both wins - but he had a 17-point, 5-of-18 shooting night between them in a loss to Idaho.

"When he scores - he's shooting the ball well - it makes us all feel good," coach Ernie Kent said.

Even after hitting 60.8 percent against UTSA, the Cougars are shooting just 40.4 percent for the season. Gonzaga has limited opponents to 59.5 points and 37.0 percent shooting.

Washington State has dropped its last eight visits to Top 25 teams, three of which have been at Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs end their run against the Pac-12 with Saturday's visit to UCLA.

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