Gonzaga closes nonconference play with only its second true road game of the season on Thursday night when it travels to perennial Mountain West power San Diego State. And with snow and temperatures getting down into the single-digits this weekend in Spokane, Zags players made no secret of the fact they are looking forward to getting away and spending a little time in sunny San Diego.
“I’m excited to get out of the cold for a little while and see the sun,” forward Johnathan Williams told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Gonzaga coach Mark Few, however, is more worried about what the temperature will be like inside Viejas Arena where the Aztecs have won 87.4 percent of their games (173-25) since the start of the 2005-06 season and are 5-2 in their last seven home games against ranked teams. Toss in the fact San Diego State last played on Dec. 9 when it suffered a bitter 63-62 loss to Cal and also throw in an ugly 69-48 defeat to the Zags last year in Spokane and you can see why Few is concerned. “It’s going to be a really hard game for us,” Few said. “They’ve had 12 days to prepare for us. They’re a program with a lot of pride and they’ve been really good.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
ABOUT GONZAGA (10-2): The Zags blasted IUPUI 101-71 on Monday marking the third time this season they’ve scored 100 points in a game, including 105 in a 111-105 double overtime loss to then No. 7 Florida in the PK80 Invitational in Portland. Five players average in double figures led by the versatile 6-foot-9 Williams (15.5), who had 17 points and 14 rebounds against IUPUI, and junior guard Josh Perkins (14.8), who also has 21 assists over the last three games. Killian Tillie, a 6-foot-10 sophomore forward, had a career-high 27 points against IUPUI and is averaging 12.8 points per game while freshman guard Zach Norvell Jr. (12.4) and senior guard Silas Melson (10.7) also average double figures.
ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE (7-3): The Aztecs would be unbeaten if not for the Pac-12 with all three of their losses coming against teams from that conference: at No. 4 Arizona State (90-68), Washington State (93-86) in the championship game of the Wooden Legacy Tournament, and Cal (63-62), a game the Aztecs blew a four-point lead in the final 50 seconds thanks to turnovers and missed free throws. Junior guard Devin Watson, a transfer from San Francisco where he once scored 33 points in a game against the Zags, leads the team in scoring (13.4) and assists (3.8) while 6-foor-10 senior forward Malik Pope, once touted as a potential lottery pick coming out of high school, is second in scoring (12.6) and leads the team in rebounding (7.0) and blocks (12). Guard Trey Kell (12.3) and freshman forward Matt Mitchell (10.9) also are averaging in double figures.
1. Gonzaga is 182-61 in road or neutral court games since the start of the 2005-06 season, a 74.9 win percentage that is tops in the nation during that span.
2. Perkins is shooting 50 percent from 3-point range, and his 39 made 3-pointers rank him 14th in the nation.
3. Gonzaga’s last true road loss came on Feb. 13, 2016 at SMU, 69-60.
PREDICTION: Gonzaga 92, San Diego State 77