The last of the unbeatens in West Coast Conference play, the 10th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs are set to welcome the Dons of San Francisco to the McCarthey Athletic Center on Saturday.
It is still a bit early in the conference schedule to start declaring their dominance, but the fact remains that the Bulldogs have posted five wins in as many WCC outings thus far. On Thursday night, the team crushed visiting BYU by a final of 83-63, a huge step in the right direction for Gonzaga after the squad bowed to 13th-ranked Butler on the road last weekend.
The victory two nights ago for the Zags was their ninth in the last 10 contests overall, and has the group showing a 9-1 record in their own building heading into this matchup.
As for the Dons, they are in the bottom third of the league standings with only two wins in seven tries. However, San Francisco appears to have turned the corner of late, going from a five-game slide to a two-game win streak, thanks in part to a 75-72 victory at Portland on Thursday.
The Zags lead the all-time series against USF by a count of 41-23, although the Dons did earn a split of the two meetings last season by stunning the Bulldogs at home, 66-65.
Cole Dickerson played the hero for the Dons on Thursday as he let fly with a 3-point attempt in the waning moments that snapped what had been the sixth tie of the game against the Pilots on the road. Dickerson made half of his six 3- point tries in the meeting, finishing with 15 points for the visitors who were paced by De'End Parker with 16 points in 22 minutes off the bench. USF committed 16 turnovers, but the team countered that lack of ball control by shooting 53.2 percent from the floor and a near-perfect 16-of-17 at the free- throw line. Over the last four games, the Dons have had a different leading scorer each time out which can be both a blessing and a curse. But through 20 contests, Dickerson stands as the most productive scorer overall with his 14.9 ppg, accounting for 10.0 rpg which means he is one of only a handful of players in the country who is averaging a double-double at this stage of the campaign. Parker and Doolin both check in with 12.3 ppg, the latter averaging almost six assists per game as well.
Considering BYU is supposed to be one of the teams expected to give the Bulldogs a run for their money in the WCC this season, Gonzaga made it look rather easy two nights ago as the squad held the Cougars to just 35.6 percent shooting from the floor and 4-of-17 behind the 3-point line. The offensive star for the Zags was Kelly Olynyk who not only scored a game-high 26 points, he did so by shooting a perfect 9-of-9 from the field and 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. Olynyk also came within a rebound of a double-double and handed out five assists in one of the most complete games in some time for the Bulldogs. Elias Harris did record a double-double for the hosts with 25 points and 10 boards, as the squad shot an impressive 56.9 percent from the field in order to combat 19 turnovers. Olynyk has been on fire the past few weeks, leading the team in scoring in four of the last five outings and boosting his scoring average to 18.5 ppg in the process. Not only is the big man hitting a sizzling 67.4 percent from the floor, he is also 82.2 percent accurate at the free-throw line which is far above the team's overall efforts at 71.9 percent.