Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Continuing with their brutal seven-game road trip to open the 2013-14 season, the Oakland Golden Grizzlies challenge the 15th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs on Sunday evening.
Oakland is facing its third ranked opponent in the first week and change, as the team has already suffered lopsided losses to No. 12 North Carolina (84-61) and No. 24 UCLA (91-60). The Golden Grizzlies were much more competitive in Friday's clash at California (64-60), despite playing without Duke Mondy and Dante Williams, both of whom are currently suspended following their arrest for an alleged sexual assault. Both were subsequently released due to a lack of sufficient evidence, but the school decided to suspend the duo as it conducts its own investigation.
Gonzaga routed its first two opponents of the season, as neither Bryant (100-76) nor Colorado State (93-61) had the talent or depth needed to upset the Zags on their home floor. GU will certainly face tougher tests before beginning play in the West Coast Conference, which it is expected to dominate once again, as a potential matchup with Baylor in the Maui Invitational, as well as trips to two other Big 12 foes -- West Virginia and Kansas State -- should present significant challenges.
Gonzaga owns an incredible 122-8 record in the McCarthey Athletic Center, which opened for the 2004-05 campaign.
This bout represents the first-ever meeting between Oakland and Gonzaga in men's basketball.
Averaging just 60.3 ppg this season, the Golden Grizzlies could ill-afford to lose someone of Mondy's abilities, as he is listed as the team's second- highest scorer at 10.5 ppg, despite shooting a dismal 28 percent from the field. Mondy, who currently paces the club in rebounding (6.0 rpg), assists (6.0 apg) and steals (4.0 spg), set a new school record last season after leading the nation in steals (100), and he finished with 168 assists to rank second in the Summit League. His suspension leaves Travis Bader as the only player of note for Oakland, but he is a very good one as he averages 19.3 ppg, despite hitting his field goals only 38.8 percent of the time. Bader is actually better from beyond the arc (.412), but the team as a whole sits at just 30.4 percent. Bader went 5-of-11 from 3-point range to collect a team- high 21 points, and center Corey Petros logged a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, but those efforts weren't enough as the Golden Grizzlies dropped a four-point decision at Cal just two nights ago.
Gonzaga is averaging a robust 96.5 ppg this season, draining 55.6 percent of its total shots, which includes a 42.0 percent showing from beyond the arc. Defensively, the Bulldogs are permitting 68.5 ppg, with foes shooting just 38.8 percent overall, including a mere 23.7 percent from 3-point land. They are +7.5 in rebounding margin, and they boast four double-digit scorers. Gary Bell, Jr. paces the unit with 19.0 ppg, and he is handing out 6.0 apg as well. Gerard Coleman (15.5 ppg, 2.5 spg), Sam Dower (14.5 ppg, 13.0 rpg) and Kevin Pangos (13.5 ppg, 8.0 apg) have all been extremely productive as well, but those in the know are quick to temper their enthusiasm based on the level of competition the Zags have faced thus far. Bell, Jr. was of fire in the recent rout of Colorado State, nailing eight 3-pointers on his way to 24 points, while Coleman added 16 points after going 7-of-10 from the field. In all, four players hit for double figures, and Gonzaga shot 57.6 percent from the floor, 45.2 percent from downtown, all while holding the Rams to just 32.1 percent field goal efficiency.