Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The ninth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs will attempt to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they face the Washington State Cougars in a non-conference contest at Spokane Arena.
After a rough start, Washington State has begun to pick up steam, with wins in three of its last four games. Two of those victories came during the Great Alaska Shootout, with the third coming last Saturday against Texas-San Antonio (91-71). The Cougars are 4-4 overall, with a date against Santa Clara next on the schedule.
Gonzaga ripped off seven straight victories to start the campaign, but it finally stumbled on Saturday, falling in overtime at Arizona (66-63). The Bulldogs still made quite a statement in the game, as they hung right with the third-ranked Wildcats, proving they belong among the nation's elite, at least right now. They will play a third straight Pac-12 squad next, as they travel to face UCLA this weekend.
There is a great deal of history between these two programs, with 148 total meetings. Washington State may own a commanding, 98-50, lead in the series, but Gonzaga has won five of the last six, including a 90-74 victory last season.
DaVonte Lacy didn't miss much in leading Washington State past UTSA. He nailed 8-of-12 shots from beyond the arc and hit 10-of-15 shots overall to finish with 31 points. The Cougars did an excellent job from 3-point distance, making 18-of-30 attempts as a team, while shooting 60.8 percent from the floor overall. The Cougars also scored 29 points off of turnovers.
It is unlikely Washington State will be throwing up 91 points again anytime soon. The Cougars are averaging only 69.5 points per game and shooting just over 40 percent from the floor. However, it is almost a certainty that Lacy (18.6 ppg) will continue to rack up points at an elevated rate. He has only made 39.6 percent of his shots from the floor, but he has sunk 38.2 percent from 3-point range and scored at least 30 points twice already. Josh Hawkinson (13.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg) is another nice piece for the Cougars, who don't have another player averaging more than eight points per game at the moment.
Gonzaga's battle with Arizona was a brutal one, with neither squad pulling ahead by more than six points for all 45 minutes, which of course included an overtime session. In the end, the Bulldogs' 39.7 percent shooting effort sank it on the road, especially when it made just 1-of-3 field goal tries and missed all three shots from the foul line in the extra period. Kyle Wiltjer did net a game-high 15 points in the loss.
Besides the matchup with Arizona, Gonzaga has been a tough team to deal with at both ends of the floor. The Bulldogs are among the top-15 teams in the country in scoring (84.9 pg) and field goal percentage (.527), while allowing only 59.5 points per game on 37 percent shooting. They spread the wealth on offense, with Wiltjer (15.9 ppg), Kevin Pangos (11.8 ppg, 5.9 apg), Domantas Sabonis (11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Byron Wesley (11.1 ppg) and Gary Bell (10.5 ppg) all working together.