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Key matchup: San Diego guard Deuce Turner riding hot streak

Jan. 5—Saint Mary's is one of the better defensive outfits in the country, but the Gaels might cringe when watching some of the video from Thursday's 81-70 win over San Diego.

Junior guard Deuce Turner torched the Gaels for 23 first-half points and a career-best 34 in the Toreros' loss. That's believed to be the highest-scoring game by a West Coast Conference player this season, eclipsing Gonzaga's Anton Watson (32 vs. UCLA) and Portland's Vucasin Masic (32 vs. North Dakota).

By the midpoint of the first half, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Turner had scored on a pair of drives to the rim, a corner 3-pointer and a floater in the lane. He tallied 18 of the team's first 26 points. At one point, he scored 12 consecutive USD points.

Turner kept the Toreros on the heels of the preseason favorite Gaels for most of the game with his combination of dribble penetration and perimeter accuracy. He made 11 of 18 shots, 4 of 7 3-pointers and 8 of 9 at the foul line. The only blemish on his stat line was six turnovers.

"Nothing that Deuce does surprises us because we see it on a daily basis in practice," San Diego coach Steve Lavin said. "He plays at a pace that allows him to make good judgments; his hand-eye coordination is outstanding. Because he's more diminutive than many guards in college basketball, he's learned how to be creative and create his own shot and separate great distance between himself and a defender to get off the shots."

Now it's Gonzaga's turn to deal with one of the hottest players in the conference. Turner scored 25 points against Fresno State before scoring 34 against a SMC defense that allowed just 58.5 points entering the game.

Turner, a native of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, played at South Plains College and Bucknell prior to transferring to USD last year. He averaged 6.5 points and 16.9 minutes in his first season.

His second season has been a different story for Turner, who is putting up a team-leading 15.2 points while hitting 36% on 3s and 86% at the free-throw line. He's started the past five games, getting the nod after scoring 17 points in 19 minutes in a road loss to Utah State.

Turner made five 3s and scored 23 points in an upset win over Arizona State. He tends to be at his best against the better teams on San Diego's schedule. He rebounded from a scoreless performance against South Dakota with 25 points in 28 minutes against Fresno State.

Turner pairs with junior point guard Wayne McKinney III to provide nearly 30 points , 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

GU's Ryan Nembhard and Nolan Hickman will match up against the USD duo. The Zags are coming off a solid defensive performance in Thursday's rout over Pepperdine. Hickman helped limit Houston Mallette, No. 2 in the WCC in scoring, to 15 points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field.