January 14, 2015

Losses by three teams ranked ahead of Gonzaga enabled the Bulldogs to move up three spots to No. 3 in the Top 25, but also served as a reminder that they can't take any opponent lightly.

They expect to be focused on the road Thursday night while trying for a 27th consecutive victory over an improved Pepperdine team.

Duke, Wisconsin and Louisville suffered road defeats over the weekend and Gonzaga (16-1, 5-0 West Coast Conference) surpassed them in the poll by outscoring San Francisco and Santa Clara 167-114 last Thursday and Saturday.

"The key is not taking it for granted, because (upsets are) happening to teams all over the country," reserve guard Kyle Dranginis said. "They can overlook teams, they get caught and then lose.

"We just have to approach every single game the same way and execute."

The Bulldogs, among the national leaders with 82.6 points per game and 52.8 percent shooting, have maintained that mindset in the nine games that followed a 66-63 overtime loss at then-No. 3 Arizona on Dec. 6. They'll try to keep that approach against Pepperdine (11-5, 4-1), which is off to its best WCC start since winning its first 11 league games in 2001-02.

"They've got to be feeling good about themselves," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Waves, who are looking for a fourth straight win after beating BYU and San Diego on the road last week.

Though Pepperdine has held its last six opponents to an average of 58.0 points and 39.0 percent shooting, it hasn't beaten Gonzaga since Jan. 18, 2002. The Bulldogs have won the last nine in Malibu by at least 10 points.

For the Waves to pull off the upset, they must contain a Gonzaga squad that features four players averaging at least 11.4 points. Five Bulldogs scored in double figures in Saturday's 79-57 win over Santa Clara, with Przemek Karnowski recording 18 points and nine rebounds as the Bulldogs shot 53.4 percent and outscored the Broncos 44-14 in the paint.

"It's going to be somebody different, two or three guys every night," Few said.

It's been the 7-foot-1 Karnowski in the last three games, as he's averaged 18.3 points - nearly seven above his average - and gone 24 of 32 from the floor in that span.

"I'm trying to be more patient on the block when I get the ball,'' said Karnowski, who went 8 of 10 on Saturday. ''I look for open guys, and if they are not there I make my move.''

Karnowski has averaged 10.8 points in four career games against Pepperdine, shooting 64.3 percent (18 for 28).

The Waves don't start anybody taller than 6-8, and leading scorer and rebounder Stacy Davis (15.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is 6-6.

Davis has averaged 20.7 points and 51.4 percent from the field in the last three games but has totaled 20 in two home games against Gonzaga. He had 12 on 5-of-13 shooting and committed six turnovers in a 70-53 home loss to the Bulldogs on Jan. 16.

The Waves have dropped 21 straight against Top 25 teams since a 75-61 win over then-No. 20 Wisconsin on Nov. 27, 2004.

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