Eighth-ranked Gonzaga has a showdown against No. 15 Arizona looming but first the Bulldogs host overmatched Mississippi Valley State on Thursday. Gonzaga has been sharp through its first six games and figures to have an easy time against the winless Delta Devils prior to Saturday’s marquee matchup between two of the top programs in the West.
Junior forward Johnathan Williams is starting to settle in with the Bulldogs and he is averaging 14.5 points on 24-of-30 shooting over the past four games. The 6-9, 228-pounder struggled in his first two games with the program - 2-of-12 from the field - after sitting out last season as a transfer from Missouri. Williams is averaging 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds and shooting 61.9 percent from the field overall. The Delta Devils are heading into their ninth game of a season-opening stretch in which they play their first 14 on road or neutral courts.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN3, ROOT, SWX (Gonzaga)
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE (0-8): The Delta Devils are being outscored by an average of 28.4 points per game and have lost by 30 or more on five occasions. Mississippi Valley is scoring just 59.6 points per game while shooting 37.1 percent from the field and 59.4 percent at the free-throw line. Ten different players have already started games for the Delta Devils, who don’t play their first home game of the season until Jan. 7.
ABOUT GONZAGA (6-0): Junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss was named AdvoCare Invitational MVP after leading the Bulldogs to three straight wins at the tourney in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., including a 73-71 victory over Iowa State in Sunday’s championship game. Williams-Goss, a transfer from Washington, leads the Bulldogs in scoring (12.8), assists (4.8) and steals (10) while fitting right in as the squad’s floor leader. Sophomore guard Josh Perkins is 11-of-21 from 3-point range over the past four games and ranks second in scoring at 12.2 per game.
1. Gonzaga defeated Mississippi Valley State 92-74 in the 2009-10 season opener in the lone previous meeting.
2. Delta Devils senior G Marcus Romain, who is averaging a team-leading 12.7 points, hasn’t played in the past five games.
3. Bulldogs senior G Jordan Mathews is averaging 5.3 points on 6-of-27 shooting over the last four contests after averaging 16.5 points over the first two games.
PREDICTION: Gonzaga 104, Mississippi Valley State 57