While things are falling in place for Gonzaga to potentially claim its first-ever No. 1 ranking, the Bulldogs' only concern is recording the school's second undefeated conference season in five years.
Looking to match the school record for wins in a season with a 12th straight victory, the second-ranked Bulldogs can complete that perfect West Coast Conference run by continuing their dominance over visiting Portland on Saturday.
After outlasting physical and pesky BYU for a 70-65 road win Thursday, Gonzaga (28-2, 15-0) secured its 10th outright WCC title and left the door open for a possible ascension to the top of the AP poll with a 20th consecutive victory over Portland (11-19, 4-11).
With top-ranked Indiana, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Michigan having lost this week, the Bulldogs have a good chance to improve one spot from the best ranking in school history. Then again, the perennial West Coast power does not play in a major conference and is 1-2 against ranked opponents.
Either way, Gonzaga players have other concerns.
"I have no clue,'' said 7-foot junior Kelly Olynyk, a national player of the year candidate who scored 19 points Thursday. "I haven't looked into it at all. If they vote us that, great for us. If not, we're still going to come out and play the next game.''
A victory Saturday also would extend Gonzaga's longest winning stretch of the season, equal the 2001-02 and 2005-06 teams for the most victories in school history and complete its first undefeated league run since 2008-09. Gonzaga shared or outright won 11 straight WCC regular-season championships before Saint Mary's ended that run in 2012.
"Our guys really want to finish up the conference really strong and go undefeated,'' said coach Mark Few, who has coached the Bulldogs to 17 consecutive regular-season league wins since a 66-65 loss at San Francisco on Feb. 18, 2012.
Gonzaga's latest victory wasn't easy but further proved the team's resiliency, as it shot a season-low 41.5 percent and was outrebounded 43-39. BYU shot 36.5 percent, but overcame an 11-point hole to tie the game with 4 minutes left before the visitors took control for good.
"This just shows what this team is all about," said sophomore guard Kevin Pangos, who had seven points and went 1 of 12 from 3-point range after going 5 of 8 in the previous two contests. "We kept grinding for the whole 40 minutes and never let up, even through the ups and downs.''
The Bulldogs should be in for an easier time versus Portland, which has not beat Gonzaga since a 72-68 road win Feb. 19, 2003 - its only victory in the last 34 meetings.
Olynyk scored 21 while Pangos added 14 on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc in Gonzaga's 71-49 win at Portland on Jan. 17. Gonzaga's won the last 19 in the series by an average of 17.2 points.
Portland sophomore Kevin Bailey scored a team-high 16 against the Bulldogs in January. He had seven rebounds and matched a team-high with 11 while going 4 of 14 from the field in the Pilots' 75-63 home loss to Santa Clara last Saturday.
- Sports & Recreation