Having had a relatively easy time winning its first four West Coast Conference games at home, Gonzaga now looks to carry over that success to the road.
Based on their consistent success against Portland, the No. 22 Bulldogs would appear to be in good position to continue their recent conference dominance Thursday night.Following a 72-62 road loss to a Kansas State team that made its season debut in the Top 25 this week, Gonzaga (14-2, 4-0) opened WCC play by beating Santa Clara, San Francisco, Saint Mary's and Pacific at home by an average of 21.5 points. Even with starting guard Gary Bell Jr. (12.7 points per game) missing the last three games with a broken hand, and Kevin Pangos (17.4 ppg) and Sam Dower (12.7 ppg) also dealing with nagging injuries, the Bulldogs have not allowed more than 64 points while yielding 33.8 percent shooting in WCC play."I couldn't be prouder of this group," said coach Mark Few, whose team plays three straight league road games before returning home Jan. 23. "They really, really responded."Among the national leaders shooting 52.0 percent on the season, Gonzaga went 27 of 39 (69.2 percent) from the field and made all but three of its 13 3-point attempts during Saturday's 86-64 win over Pacific for its 22nd consecutive regular-season victory over a conference opponent."Sixty nine percent is unbelievable," said Few, whose team already shot 69.7 percent in a 113-81 victory over Chaminade at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 26.Pangos and Drew Barham each scored 16 while David Stockton added 15 and Dower 13 on Saturday."They say shoot when you are open," said the senior Barham, who has started the last four games and is averaging 12.2 points while going 17 of 30 from 3-point range in the last five.With a 1-1 record in true road games, Gonzaga looks to extend a nine-game road conference winning streak that dates to a 66-65 loss at San Francisco on Feb. 18, 2012 -- also the site of its most recent regular-season league defeat.The Bulldogs have won 20 in a row and 34 of 35 against Portland (9-7, 1-3), including the last four meetings by an average of 25.5 points. A winner of 17 straight road games in the series, Gonzaga's last loss at Portland was 67-66 on Jan. 27, 1996.Pangos hit half of his eight 3-point attempts and finished with 14 points during a 71-49 win at Portland on Jan. 17. Gonzaga then held the Pilots to 28.8 percent shooting in an 81-52 home rout March 2.Portland hopes to put up more of a fight this time after beating Pacific 72-64 last Thursday, and losing each of its other three league games by nine or fewer points. The Pilots, who will play their first five WCC games at home, shot 38.0 percent during Saturday's 72-63 loss to Saint Mary's.Junior guard Kevin Bailey averages a team-leading 17.1 points but scored 10 in 21 minutes before fouling out against the Gaels. He's totaled 28 points on 11-of-28 shooting and committed 13 turnovers with only two assists in four games versus Gonzaga.