Gonzaga-San Francisco Preview
Perhaps the only team in the West Coast Conference that can stop Gonzaga is the second-ranked Bulldogs themselves.
Looking for a cleaner overall performance than its last, visiting Gonzaga tries to extend its longest winning streak in nine seasons to 17 games Saturday night against struggling San Francisco.
Gonzaga (23-1, 11-0) went 14 of 21 from the floor through the first 20 minutes Thursday, but committed 10 turnovers and trailed Santa Clara by two at the break before using a 16-3 run to pull away for a 77-63 road victory.
It was only the second time this season an opponent held a halftime lead against the Bulldogs, who shot a season-high 69.0 percent. However, the Broncos stuck around because of the 21 points they scored off the 14 turnovers Gonzaga committed for a second straight contest.
''We had 10 turnovers in the first half,'' said guard Byron Wesley, who had 17 points and seven rebounds. ''That's unlike us. We knew once we started taking care of the ball and make them take tough shots, we'd be fine.''
Gonzaga, which leads the nation in field-goal percentage (53.3) and has held its last six opponents to 34.3 percent shooting, shot 15 of 21 in the second half and held Santa Clara to 38.5 percent over the same span.
"It's crazy what these guys have done this season," said Bulldogs coach Mark Few, whose team is in the midst of the program's longest winning stretch since a 20-game run in 2005-06.
Leading scorer Kyle Wiltjer (15.8 points per game) had 22 and Gary Bell Jr. added 16 for Gonzaga, which is trying to go undefeated in league play for the second time in three seasons.
''We haven't really let our guard down,'' Few said. ''We've gotten sloppy at the end of some games. ... But we have four more games on the road against inspired teams in front of sell-out crowds. So that's to be continued.''
The Bulldogs already won a 26th straight home game over San Francisco, 88-57 on Jan. 8. Senior point guard Kevin Pangos had 17 points and went 5 of 8 from 3-point range, 7-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski added 16 and Wiltjer had 15.
''We can't bring our B game, our C game, against a team like Gonzaga,'' San Francisco coach Rex Walters said after his team shot 40.8 percent and was outrebounded 39-26.
Though Pangos has averaged 7.7 points on 5-of-21 shooting and missed 13 of 15 3-point attempts in three games at San Francisco, Gonzaga's posted two straight 10-point road victories against the Dons (9-15, 3-9) after losing three in a row there. The Bulldogs overcame their second-lowest shooting performance (38.8) of the season by holding the Dons to 34.5 percent from the field in a 75-65 victory in the Bay Area last Feb. 1.
San Francisco leading scorer Kruize Pinkins (15.2 ppg), who fouled out of that contest, totaled nine points in two meetings versus Gonzaga before scoring 20 last month.
The 6-foot-7 senior was held to eight points for the second time in three games while going 2 of 9 from the floor as the Dons dropped their fourth in a row Thursday, 69-57 to visiting Portland.
San Francisco has lost six straight against Top 25 teams since a 66-65 home win over No. 24 Gonzaga on Feb. 18, 2012.